Launch customer All Nippon Airways should have received its first Boeing 787 more than two years ago, but it is still to decide on a cabin configuration or initial routes.
Speaking after the maiden flight, ANA executive vice-president Matsuo Morimoto would say only that the Dreamliner will start its commercial service on short-haul routes, a choice driven by the need to train early in the programme. He said: "It's going to depend on sales strategy."
Dreamliner takes off
ANA's slowness to determine routes and configuration may be a feature of its launch customer status, as the first 787s
it receives are likely to exceed initial weight targets. The airline is probably adopting a wait-and-see approach given uncertainty about the aircraft's capability, says one industry observer.
Boeing recently disclosed that, starting with aircraft 20, the maximum take-off weight would be raised to bolster range and payload performance due to the increased weight of the aircraft.
Morimoto says ANA is confident that Boeing will deliver the first aircraft to the airline in late 2010, in keeping with the latest schedule.
Programme sources have told Flight International that if Boeing's nine- to 12-month flight-test schedule remains on track, ANA could take delivery of up to 10 787s in 2010.
"I feel confident that the schedule will be on time and we will receive the aircraft as scheduled, so what we have to do from now on is be prepared to accept the airplane, and use the airplane for our operation," says Morimoto.
Morimoto adds that the airline will have "supplement airplanes to operate those routes which were supposed to have the 787".
According to Boeing, ANA ordered four additional 767-300ERs on 25 September 2008 following the disclosure of the early delays to the 787 programme.
By comparison, Japan Airlines says that it will deploy the first of its 35 787s it has on order "on new long-haul routes between Tokyo and America, Europe, as well as South-East Asia, afforded by the expansion of Haneda airport in October 2010".