After three years of delays, All Nippon Airways (ANA) is poised to receive its first Boeing 787 later this month. The big plane, known as the Dreamliner, will then begin regularly scheduled flights for ANA this November. However, a lucky few will get to take a special charter flight from Narita International (Tokyo) to Hong Kong on Oct. 26-27, celebrating the first official passenger flight of the Dreamliner.
ANA is Japan’s biggest airline, based on passenger traffic; according to its president Shinichiro Ito, the Dreamliner and the airline’s new budget carrier, AirAsia Japan, will “play a key role in helping double ANA’s operating profit margin” to 10% in the next three to four years.
Where You Can Fly the Dreamliner
The airline expects to add 20 of these 787’s to its fleet by March and ultimately take possession of 55; in the meantime, here’s where and when you can catch a ride on the Dreamliner:
- November 1: Domestic flights between Haneda-Okayam and Haneda-Hiroshima
- December 2011: First regular international service, Haneda-Beijing
- January 2012: First long-haul international service, Haneda-Frankfurt
For those of you wondering about U.S. destinations, an ANA spokesperson told me Dreamliner flights to the U.S. is a definite goal and although there is no set timetable yet, they hope to have U.S. service in place “sometime in the coming year”.
Dreamliner’s Luxury Passenger Amenities
ANA says seating aboard their Dreamliners will be configured differently, depending on the route; for example, on long-haul international flights, look for 46 business class seats and 112 economy seats.
At the moment, there is no first class, but many Dreamliner amenities are definitely “upper cabin”. Business class passengers will have seats that fully recline and are equipped with widescreen, LCD touch panels; coach passengers will also have individual entertainment screens and everyone gets the universal PC power source, a USB port and, on long haul flights, an iPod jack. The favorite amenity of the ANA rep I spoke with? The larger-than-standard tinted windows that can be lightened or darkened at the touch of a button. I like that, too.
Why Airlines Love Dreamliner
There are several good reasons why airlines like ANA appreciate the Dreamliner, such as the more spacious overhead bins which can lead to easier and quicker boardings, but the really big reason is fuel efficiency.
When all its first 20 Dreamliners are in operation, the airline expects they will help ANA cut fuel costs by a huge margin, saving the carrier from $51 to $64 billion dollars a year. I like that, too.