ROUTES: Boeing 787 network development goes global

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The Boeing 787 has been earning money with launch customer All Nippon Airways for a year, and the worldwide fleet is gradually expanding as more airlines introduce an airliner that its manufacturer promises will revolutionise its customers' networks.

After lengthy development and production delays, the Dreamliner programme is now building momentum. Six customers have taken their initial Dreamliner deliveries and the type is now flying with airlines based in the Americas, Africa and Asia. With some 800 of the aircraft type on order and production rates rising, the global fleet is set to rise rapidly.

ANA has always been in pole position on the programme, with its first Dreamliner originally due in mid-2008. It was eventually able to pioneer 787 revenue services in November last year. Local rival Japan Airlines joined the Dreamliner club in March when it received its first aircraft. Over the ensuing months, Ethiopian, LAN, Air India and United Airlines have all taken their first 787s. Qatar Airways, China Southern Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines are set to join the fray before the end of this year.

LAN Airlines' boss, Ignacio Cueto, demonstrated the excitement that the new carbonfibre design is generating among its customers when he accepted his first 787 in August: "This is a landmark moment not just for LAN, but for all our passengers in Latin America and other countries the 787 will serve," he says. "The special features will allow us to further improve the travel experience for our passengers."

LOT is due to become the first European recipient of the 787 in November and deliveries to UK airlines Thomson Airways and British Airways will begin in 2013. Leisure airline, Thomson, which will be the first of the UK carriers to receive the Dreamliner, has launched a Twitter contest to name their first 787. The prize will be a free flight.

"If you spot that airplane, you're asked to tweet an image or where you saw it, along with a reason you should get to name the Dreamliner," says Randy Tinseth, vice-president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

As the momentum builds for Boeing's baseline 210- to 250-seat 787-8, work is progressing fast on the stretched 787-9 which can carry an additional 40 passengers.

Major assembly of the first 787-9 is underway at production partner Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan, which has installed door frames in the forward fuselage. This section is flown by one of Boeing's curious looking 747 "Dreamlifter" freighters to the USA before final assembly of all the sub-structures takes place in Everett near Seattle next year. Air New Zealand is due to take the first 787-9 delivery in 2014.

ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS

The Japanese carrier has 13 787s in service and plans to have 20 by the end of FY2011/12, which ends on 31 March 2013. The airline's total order for the Dreamliner stands at 55 aircraft.

ANA says that it will fly its 787s to any market with a demand for a mid-size widebody "as the 787 is a mid-size aircraft and does not necessarily need a bulky demand".

The airline's current Dreamliner domestic destinations from Tokyo Haneda include:

The Star Alliance carrier's single international service with the Dreamliner is currently on the Haneda-Frankfurt route. Future domestic points planned for its 787s this year from Haneda include Sapporo and Miyazaki (both from 28 October) and Takamatsu (from 1 December). The subsequent international destinations from Haneda will be Beijing (from 28 October), Seattle and San Jose (from 11 January 2013).

  • JAPAN AIRLINES

The Oneworld carrier has placed four of the 45 787s it has on order into service and expects to have 10 in operation by March next year.

JAL's Dreamliners currently serve international routes and the carrier has no plans to operate the aircraft domestically. The airline says it intends to use the 787 on long-haul international routes "where the aircraft's fuel efficiency can be maximised".

Its 787s currently serve a single destination from Tokyo Haneda (Beijing) and three from Narita:

Planned future destinations from Narita include:

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES

The Star Alliance carrier has one 787 in service and has ordered 10 of the type. It will receive three additional 787s by end-2012, its fifth in 2013 and the remaining five in 2014, says the carrier's chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam.

Ethiopian Airlines currently operates its first 787 on a rotational basis to several destinations in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

With the arrival of its second 787, it will operate the aircraft on its daily flight between Addis Ababa and Washington DC. Later this year, it will deploy the aircraft on flights to Guangzhou after it takes delivery of more 787s.

Looking ahead, Gebremariam says the airline plans to operate the aircraft nonstop to Hangzhou and destinations in Europe.

LAN

Chile-based LAN has one 787-8 in service and has orders for 32 Boeing 787s, comprising 22 787-8s and 10 -9s. It will receive its next two 787-8 orders by end-2012, another two in 2013 and seven more in 2014. The carrier's first 787-9 will arrive in early 2015, says LAN's chief executive Ignacio Cueto. All 32 of the type will join LAN's fleet in the next decade.

LAN aims to operate its first 787 revenue flight on 1 October between Santiago and Buenos Aires. It will then deploy the aircraft on the Santiago-Lima route in November, says LAN's vice-president of fleet projects Justin Siegel. This will be followed by the Santiago-Lima-Los Angeles route in January 2013. LAN also plans to operate the type on flights to Madrid and Frankfurt within its first year of 787 operations.

AIR INDIA

Air India took delivery of its first of 27 787s on 6 September and will initially deploy the aircraft to domestic points from New Delhi, beginning with Chennai. International services are due to begin in the winter with initial destinations likely to include Australian cities Sydney and Melbourne.

"The 787 will allow Air India to open new routes in the dynamic marketplace and provide the best in-flight experience for our passengers," says the airline's chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan.

UNITED AIRLINES

The Star Alliance carrier is the most recent to take delivery of the type, having received its first 787 on 22 September. A further four will arrive by the end of the year. The 45 remaining aircraft are due between 2013 and 2019.

United will base its Dreamliners at Houston Intercontinental Airport and will deploy them on US domestic routes from early November as it prepares to begin international services in December and January. "The 787 will open up new nonstop destinations that customers would not be able to otherwise reach on United, such as the recently announced Denver-Tokyo service that starts next spring," says the airline.

The airline will deploy its 787s on many existing domestic and international routes. It intends to use the twinjet to launch routes that are "too thin" for its 777s but require greater range than its 767s. It will also use the aircraft on flights during seasonal off-peak periods to international destinations from the USA - for example to Australia and India during the US summer months and to Asia and Europe during the autumn and winter months.

Planned domestic destinations from Houston include:

  • Chicago O'Hare
  • Cleveland
  • Denver
  • Los Angeles
  • New York Newark
  • San Francisco
  • Washington Dulles
  • International routes will include:
  • Houston-Amsterdam
  • Houston-Lagos
  • Houston-London Heathrow
  • Denver-Tokyo Narita
  • Los Angeles-Tokyo Narita
  • Los Angeles-Shanghai

QATAR AIRWAYS

The Doha-based airline showed off its first Dreamliner at July's Farnborough air show prior to its official handover.

The first five of 30 787s that Qatar Airways has on firm order has just been handed over to the airline. "We'll deploy our 787s on thin, long-range routes to a mixture of existing and new destinations," says chief executive Akbar Al Baker.

After initial deployment on intra-Gulf routes to build up experience on the type, Qatar Airways intends to put the twinjet into service between Doha and London Heathrow. Other early international destinations for Qatar's 787s will include Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Tokyo Narita and Osaka.

LOT

The Polish flag carrier will receive its first 787 in mid-November and operate the type on long-haul flights between Warsaw and Chicago from January. Services to Toronto and New York begin in February, with Beijing coming on line in March.

CHINA SOUTHERN AIRLINES

Deliveries of the SkyTeam carrier's 10 787s are due to begin this year. Production of the airline's initial 787s has been undertaken and the aircraft have been stored at Boeing's Everett assembly plant, awaiting completion (including engine installation).

One of the long-haul services within the SkyTeam carrier's initial Dreamliner network plan is understood to be on the Kangaroo route between Sydney and London Heathrow through its Guangzhou base.