With Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 having made its first commercial flights over the weekend, the airline has also begin to flesh out future plans and routes for the advanced Dreamliner jet.
While the first Boeing 787-9 will start flying between Auckland and Perth in October, Air New Zealand will rely on its second and third Dreamliner deliveries in September and October to begin services to Shanghai and Tokyo.
However, the airline has dropped plans for a Christchurch stop-over on the Tokyo service.
“That was the original plan, because that flight on some days goes from Tokyo/ Narita down to Christchurch and then on to Auckland” said Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787 programme director Kerry Reeves.
“But for the Boeing 787 it will just be doing direct Narita-Auckland, it won’t be doing the Christchurch leg.”
“There are some days the flight will go through Christchurch but on those days we’ll use a Boeing 777-200, not the 787” Reeves told Australian Business Traveller.
Air New Zealand’s schedule shows three more Boeing 787-9s being delivered in July, August and October 2015, two of which “are in fact the current test aircraft that Boeing is using, which will be refitted for delivery next year” Reeves said.
This includes the test aircraft which visited Auckland and Australia in January this year.
Another two Dreamliners are slated for July and September 2016, with the last two of the initial ten-jet order arriving in August and October 2017.
If the Boeing 787 does all that Air New Zealand hopes it will, the Kiwi carrier could sign up for a second serve of the next-generation jets.
“We have options in 2016-2018 which we can use for further growth if we need it” Reeves told Australian Business Traveller.
A daily Dreamliner for Vancouver?
The airline hasn’t committed to any Dreamliner routes beyond this year’s Perth-Shanghai-Tokyo trifecta but one destination under serious consideration is Vancouver.
“We fly Auckland-Vancouver today on a Boeing 777-200 but the Boeing 787 has the same range capability so we have planned that this aircraft may end up going to Vancouver” Reeves said.
“We only fly to Vancouver five days a week now, so what we could do is put the Boeing 787 on and operate a daily service.”
The Dreamliners will also be used to prise open new routes “where we see other opportunities” Reeves said, before handing them over to a Boeing 777.
“The Boeing 787’s operating cost per Available Seat Kilometre is more competitive than any other aircraft of its type, so that gives you a very good lead-up to get a route into profitability” Reeves told Australian Business Traveller.
“And then as you build the market, especially if it’s a country that is developing and the premium market starts to build, then you can put a different aircraft on.”
Growing markets: from Boeing 787 to 777
Reeves sees the larger Boeing 777-200 as a next step up from the Boeing 787 in growing those routes, even though the Dreamliner offers a superior travel experience for the passengers.
“We have 18 business class seats on the Boeing 787 and 26 on the 777-200; and we have 21 premium economy versus 40 on the 777-200” Reeves said.
“So it’s sort of a stepping stone where the Boeing 787 would be a great aircraft for initial route startup, to get it going when you’re not quite sure what the market is going to do, because you can offer a lot of seats at a reasonably attractive price.”
“You’ll have the same seating on the Boeing 777-200 as the 787, the only disadvantage is you don’t have the pressurisation difference, higher humidity and the larger windows."
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