How’s the Dreamliner Doing?


Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has been around for three years. It was supposed to be the next-generation aircraft for next-generation passengers. Its appeal lies in fuel-sipping economics. Punching below its weight and making new routes profitable. Avoiding hubs. Flying non-stop at near capacity to new markets.

How’s the Dreamliner doing?

The Centre for Aviation asked the question. Data for the coming winter season suggests only 20 percent of Dreamliners are flying new routes like United’s 787-8 San Francisco-Chengdu service.

Most Dreamliners have supplemented or replaced equipment on existing routes.

Nonetheless, the 787’s lower operating costs and smaller capacity make it profitable on routes that wouldn’t work without it.

“The (Chengdu) route is enabled by this airplane,” a United Airlines’ spokesperson told the Centre for Aviation. “China is full of cities of 6 to 10 million people. With this airplane, we can be a first mover.”

United also opened a 787 route between Denver-Tokyo Narita. Beginning October they’ll also fly Los Angeles-Melbourne, the longest scheduled 787 service.

Norwegian Air Shuttle wants a 787-only long-haul fleet. Its Dreamliner network includes Scandinavia to Bangkok, Fort Lauderdale and JFK. It’s also departing from Gatwick but facing a no-fly Department of Transportation ruling from its base in Ireland over use of low-cost labor.

Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjorn Kjos told Travel Weekly: “We looked at this previously but couldn’t do it without a Boeing 787.”

Norwegian opened nine of the 34 routes 787s opened in the last three years. Another five of its routes had to be launched with alternative aircraft.

All Nippon Airways opened five new 787 routes. Air India and United Kingdom’s Thomson both opened four routes with 787s. Air India said its entire European and Asia-Pacific network will be served by 787s; 777s remain on North American routes.

Thomson’s four new scheduled routes cover three leisure destinations – Mauritius, Phuket and Puerto Vallarta. Air Canada is sorting out its 787 service to China.

Japan Airlines is using 787s to open service to Boston, Helsinki and San Diego. Boston and San Diego are part of JAL’s 787 strategy to reach thinner markets.

ANA has used its 787 to open a new route to San Jose.

Ethiopian has opened two 787 routes: Lome-Sao Paulo and Addis Ababa-Shanghai Pudong.

Qatar has opened two 787 destinations, Tokyo Haneda and Edinburgh.

British Airways opened a new route to Austin and Hainan Airlines opened one to Boston, both planning on 787s.

The Tarmac’s View:  Here’s a spokesperson for United Airlines speaking on the practicality of the LA-Melbourne 787-non-stop, which starts in October. “The 787-9 has got the right range, capacity and has the best economies of any wide bodied aircraft we are flying today. We need a plane like it to serve a market like Melbourne to LA. It gives us the ability to add a third trans-Pacific flight but not flood the market with seats. We are all about capacity discipline.”

For the most part, 787s take on the job of fleet replacement. But still, a new aircraft accounting for 20 percent of new routes is significant.

Let’s give the last words to the Centre for Aviation:  Aviation is constantly replenishing itself, and with competition increasing, becoming more efficient is a matter of survival.


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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • AADC10 at 8:16pm July 15, 2014

    Most of the new routes seem to exist due to the range and relatively small size and there is less indication of routes due to fuel economics. Perhaps this is due to the limited number of operating aircraft but if the economics are significant, we should start to see new routes that could be operated by older, similar sized aircraft.

    The current 787 fleet does not seem to help UA much as they have not been financially performing anywhere as well as currently the Dreamliner-less DL or AA. The 787 also completely failed to deliver on the initial promise of 8 abreast Y seating with separate armrests.

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