First 787 Arrives in Japan, ANA Preps for Service

 - October 3, 2011, 5:01 PM
ANA’s second 787, still sitting on Boeing property in Everett, Wash., will join the first airplane at the airline’s Tokyo base in the coming weeks. (Photo: Gregory Polek)

The first Boeing 787 landed early Wednesday morning at Tokyo Haneda Airport carrying All Nippon Airways CEO Shinichiro Ito, following his appearance at the September 26 first delivery ceremony in Everett, Wash. Arrival of the first airplane marks the end of a three-year odyssey for ANA, during which repeated delays in delivery forced the airline into the delicate position of publicly supporting its supplier in Seattle while suffering through losses associated the absence of the 787 from its fleet.

To hear Ito speak at the first delivery ceremony in rain-soaked Everett last Monday, however, one wouldn’t have detected any lingering frustration, as the ANA boss accepted the ceremonial key to the 787 from Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh. “I cannot wait to see the day when the skies of the world are filled with 787s,” he said.

At least the airplane will start to populate Japanese skies on a regular basis on November 1, when ANA flies its first scheduled domestic routes from Tokyo Haneda to Okayama and Hiroshima. The airline then plans to fly its first regularly scheduled international service between Tokyo Haneda and Beijing in December, followed by Haneda-Frankfurt in January.

Expecting to take delivery of four of the airplanes during this calendar year and another eight by the end of March, ANA holds an order for 55 of the airplanes, 15 if which will come in the form of the larger 787-9. ANA vice president for North America Satoru Fujiki told reporters in Everett that although the airline will start flying the 787 on domestic and short-haul international routes, ANA’s long-term strategy centers on long-haul services because the Japanese market has “matured.”

Notwithstanding the delivery delays, Fujiki said the “the timing was right” to start replacing the company’s Boeing 767s with the Dreamliner and begin “redrawing the map” of the global aviation industry. Noting that the 787 can fly 52 percent farther than the 767, Fujiki said the 787 would arrive in separate configurations for domestic service (12 premium class and 252 standard class seats), short-haul international flights (42 business class and 180 economy class) and long-haul international service (46 business class and 112 economy). Although it will fly on domestic service, the first airplane came configured for short-haul international flights to facilitate staff training.