New generation widebodies like the Boeing 787 and Airbus’s A350 and A330neo are revolutionising the network-planning world by making previously uneconomic routes viable.
That was the consensus during a World Routes Strategy Summit panel that examined the capabilities of new airliners. “Of the approximately 200 city-pairs operated by the 787 today, 33 are brand new and did not previously have service,” says Alex Heiter, Boeing executive director airline network and fleet planning.
Diio’s chief marketing officer Joel Antolini concurs that the Dreamliner, along with the new Airbus twinjets, promises to shake up the long-haul market: “Unequivocally, I think some of the routes now being flown with the 787 could not be flown viably [with another type]. The A350 and A330neo are going to do similar things,” he says.
Antolini cites routes such as San Jose to Tokyo Narita and London Heathrow to Austin as “perfect examples” of pairings that would not be viable with larger aircraft. “That’s kind of game-changing. These aircraft are allowing opportunities that would otherwise not exist,” he says.
“When you get something like 15% fuel savings, a route goes from being unprofitable to profitable.”
Boeing’s Heiter describes the 787’s capabilities as “absolutely revolutionary” from a network perspective: “With the 787, we’re doing for the transpacific network what the 757 and 767 did on the transatlantic about 20 years ago,” he says.
United Airlines is operating the twinjet between San Francisco and Chengdu, which Heiter says is “proof positive of a market that could not have been economically served with any previous aircraft type”.