Jetstar will take delivery of its first Boeing 787 towards the end of September, marking the start of an extensive fleet renewal for both the low-cost carrier and its parent Qantas.
However, a date for the beginning of commercial flights remains to be set, due to the various tasks to be carried out between the plane’s handover to Jetstar and its entry into service.
Jetstar will pick up a further two 787s by year's end, and while the airline has yet to reveal its 787 launch routes, Jetstar Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka says the Dreamliners "will operate to destinations like Honolulu, Phuket and Tokyo which are currently serviced by our A330 aircraft."
The Dreamliner’s Australian debut comes five years after Qantas originally expected to begin flying the next-gen jet.
A series of delays assigned to the aircraft’s revolutionary design, including extensive use of carbon-fibre composites instead of metal, resulted in Boeing paying Qantas $150 million in ‘opportunity cost’ compensation due to Qantas being unable to fly the fuel-efficient 787 and put its older aircraft out to pasture.
Qantas also cancelled its order for 35 Dreamliners, although the airline has options on as many as 50 Dreamliners from 2016.
While those 787s will be shared between Qantas and Jetstar, the first 14 Dreamliners winging their way into the Qantas Group are all earmarked for Jetstar, which intends to make the most of the aircraft’s improved fuel efficiencies, reduced maintenance and increased passenger comfort.
Virgin Australia also has the 787 on its shopping list, alongside the Airbus A350, to replace the airline’s Airbus A330 and Boeing 777s for transcontinental and international flights from 2017.
Earlier this year Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti told Australian Business Traveller that the choice of which of the big birds to buy will be “an end-of-year decision”.
“We’re taking our time, there’s no need to rush into this” he said, adding that the Dreamliner’s well-documented woes “haven’t dented my views on how good I think the 787 is. I think the 787 is a wonderful airplane, just as much as I believe the A350 will be.”
Australian Business Traveller will be visiting Boeing’s 787 factory at Everett, Washington in early June to see Jetstar’s first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on the final assembly line.
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