ANA converts 15 787-8s to -9s

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Boeing 787 launch operator All Nippon Airways (ANA) will convert 15 of its 55 787-8s order to larger -9 aircraft, joining a growing list of customers to make the switch.

The -9s will "meet the increasing need for 400 seat-capacity aircraft for domestic routes, and will further improve the flexibility of our fleet and network planning", says ANA, which has said it plans to have domestic and long-haul configurations for its 787-8s,

These 400-seat 787-9s will complement, and likely replace, the 418-seat 777-200s that ANA operates today on short-haul routes.

In January, ANA converted 28 787-3s, intended for short-haul high-cycle high-capacity domestic operations, to 787-8s. The move erased the remaining backlog for the model, virtually eliminating any chance the variant will ever be built.

ANA joins a growing list of 787 customers converting to the stretch 787-9, which is designed to seat 280 passengers in a three-class configuration. The 787-9 is 6.1m longer than the -8 and has a design range of 15,000km (8,135nm).

Air China recently converted 15 of its 787-8s to -9s, while Vietnam Airlines converted 16.

Excluding today's conversion by ANA, Boeing holds orders for 847 787s, split between 205 787-9s and 642 -8s. That breakdown is expected to further shift towards the -9 as its capabilities become clearer.

ANA did not specify a timeline for delivery of the 787-9s, which are slated to enter service with Air New Zealand at the end of 2013.

The Japanese carrier, which has yet to announce its first destination with the 787, is currently slated to receive its first 787-8 in February 2011 after nearly three years of delays.