ANA Celebrates International Women's Day with
New Manga Series Honoring Women
in the Aviation Industry Introducing “Blue Flight”: An original manga aiming to inspire the
next generation of female aviation professionals.

2024 / 03 / 08

International Women's Day, observed on March 8, commemorates women for their social, economic, cultural and political achievements. In this installment, we highlight the female ground-handling personnel of ANA Group, who play a key role in safe and timely flight operations.

These staff members are tasked with a wide range of responsibilities, including connecting jet bridges to incoming aircraft, handling passenger luggage and assisting with aircraft pushback from the gate.

The term “gurahan joshi,” derived from “ground-handling joshi” or “ground-handling women,” has become popularized in Japan to recognize female personnel in the ground handling industry. Approximately 20% of ground-handling staff in Japan are women.

Blue Flight: A Story of Ground-Handling Women

ANA Group, in collaboration with publishing company Shogakukan, released the original manga “Blue Flight: A Story of Ground Handling Women” (available exclusively in Japanese). Illustrated by Nonoko, this manga made its debut in the March 2024 edition of Shogakukan's monthly manga magazine “Betsucomi,” making it the first manga to spotlight ground-handling staff.

Nanami, pictured middle, poses with the ANA Airport Services' Ramp Service team

Last month, ANA Group held a press conference at Haneda Airport, during which colleagues shared their excitement for the upcoming series.

The story follows Kokone, a female ground-handling employee at ANA, depicting her life working in the aviation industry. Kokone is inspired by Nanami, a member of the ANA Airport Services' Ramp Service team.

“I have a passion for travel and discovered ground handling while exploring career options in the aviation industry,” said Nanami. “I thought it could be an exciting opportunity.”

Nanami's enthusiasm for travel guided her toward her future career path, and she aims for this series to inspire the next generation of females in the aviation industry.

“Ensuring timely departures and seeing passengers wave back to me fuels my dedication to this profession,” she said. “I hope this series introduces young readers to the world of ground handling.”

The Future of Women in Ground Handling

At the manga release press conference, ANA Senior Executive Officer and President of ANA Airport Services, Akiko Oyamada, and Editor-in-chief of Betsucomi, Mio Maeda, addressed attendees.

“Recently, we have observed an increase in the number of women, like the protagonist Kokone, joining the ground-handling team,” said Oyamada. “I hope that readers gain a glimpse into the rewarding job and develop an interest in pursuing careers in this industry.”

Akiko Oyamada, middle right and Mio Maeda, middle left

She hopes that readers gain insight into the daily tasks conducted by ground-handling agents and how crucial their role is to operations.

“After learning of the heroic work by ground-handling staff in supporting airline operations, I felt a strong desire to share the knowledge with our readers,” said Maeda.

“My very first airplane experience was on a domestic ANA flight,” said Nonoko. “I am deeply honored to illustrate a manga set for a company that holds such cherished memories for me.”

Both Maeda and Nonoko aspire that more people recognize the work that ground-handling staff do behind the scenes.

ANA Group and Shogakukan aim to combine the charm of aviation and manga to create works that are cherished by fans all over the world.

Through Kokone's tale, they seek to introduce the unseen world of women in ground handling and the pivotal role that they play in daily airline operations. ANA Group strives to advance gender balance in positions where women are historically under-represented and foster an equitable workplace.