Boeing 787 Dreamliners for ANA, JAL and China Southern sit waiting for parts at Paine Field.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is about to start a new round of testing to prepare for its first customer, All Nippon Airways (ANA), during the third quarter of 2011. During the week of July 4th, the second Dreamliner, ZA002 is expected to start service readiness testing in Japan.
Both companies will help to simulate in-service operations at several airports throughout Japan. ANA’s maintenance crews will also have the ability to service the 787 during the testing, including fit checks for airplane jacks, towing and refueling the aircraft. The testing is expected to take place during the week of July 4th. This will also mark the first time that the 787 has flown to and with-in Japan.
At this point, ANA is expecting their first 787 Dreamliner sometime between August and September. Boeing is not officially talking about who will receive the next few 787s. However, Boeing President Jim McNerney announced that China Southern should receive their first Dreamliner during the fourth quarter this year.
Japan Airlines (JAL) has recently announced they will operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on a route from Narita Japan to Boston, starting in April 2012, but a JAL spokes person confirmed to me via email that this will not be the first 787 they will receive. “The first 787 will not be on the [Tokyo to Boston] route, but this route is the first one named by JAL to use the 787.” The spokesperson explained. “We haven’t announced where the first 787 will be deployed to.” JAL hopes to receive their first 787 by the end of 2011 and receive five Dreamliners by the end of the 2011 fiscal year.
It is not exactly clear if China Southern or JAL will receive the second 787, but this timeline suggests that ANA will not be flying the 787 exclusively for very long. With ANA’s pride in being the first customer for the 787 and all their advertising featuring the aircraft and even operating a site dedicated to the aircraft called “ANA We Fly 1st,” I can only imagine that the airline was hoping to be the only airline flying the Dreamliner for a bit longer than a few months at most.
An All Nippon Airways Boeing 767 on the Taxiway at Haneda. The new international terminal is in the background.
Let me introduce you to Tokyo’s two airports: Narita Airport and Haneda Airport.
Historically Haneda has handled domestic flights and Narita has handled international flights. Haneda is located just outside of downtown Tokyo, where Narita is about 50 miles east of Tokyo.
If passengers flew into Haneda to make a connection for an international flight, they would have had to take an hour long bus or train ride to Narita to get their connecting international flight.
But things are changing. On October 21st Haneda opened their new International Terminal and commenced their first scheduled international flights in 32 years. Some short-haul international flights have already started, and long-haul will start on October 31st.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) will start two flights from Haneda on the 31st: one from Los Angeles using a Boeing 777-200ER and the other to Honolulu using a Boeing 767-300ER. ANA will also start code-share flights from Haneda with Air Canada, Air China, Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways International, all members of Star Alliance, as well as with Eva Airways and Malaysia Airlines.
Air Canada will fly a Haneda-Vancouver route and Malaysia Airlines will start a Haneda-Kota Kinabalu route. ANA will also start code-shares on four flights to Singapore with Singapore Airlines, two flights to Bangkok with Thai Airways International, two flights to Seoul (Gimpo) with Asiana Airlines, two flights to Beijing with Air China, and four flights to Taipei (Songshan) with Eva Airways.
So what does this mean for you? Convenience. If you are in the US and looking to visit Tokyo or fly into Tokyo to transfer to another domestic flight, it will now be much easier. Yes, tickets will cost a bit more to Haneda, but you will save the bus or train fare and of course time. Saving time can be worth the money if you are travelling on business or even on vacation.
During a press conference Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines and ANA were all asked if they have seen their booking to Narita decline due to the new competition from Haneda and all three stated at this point they have not.
Competition never seems to hurt passengers and hopefully this will be the case of Haneda initiating international flights. Currently the long haul flights won’t directly compete with the ones from Narita due to time restrictions at Haneda. Long-haul flights can only take off or land at Haneda from midnight to 5am, times which Narita is closed.
Not only does Haneda increase the diversity of passengers and aircraft, they also got a brand spanking new international terminal that is quite amazing. On my next blog I will take you on a little tour of that new terminal.