Virgin Atlantic has commenced Boeing 787 passenger flights today (Tuesday 28 October 2014) with its inaugural flight from London Heathrow to Boston.
Flight VS11 departed London Heathrow for Boston Logan International Airport shortly after its scheduled departure time of 17:35. Virgin also operated a test flight from London Gatwick to Atlanta on Friday 24 October, which is pictured below.
Whilst today marks the official launch of passenger flights for the Boeing 787, according to Airline Route the 787 will not operate from 31 October to 14 November to allow for crew familiarisation flights.
The replacement of quad-engine Boeing 747s and Airbus A340s at London Heathrow with the twin-engine Boeing 787 is cited as a significant step in restoring Virgin Atlantic to profitability, together with its nascent transatlantic joint-venture with Delta Air Lines. Virgin Atlantic originally ordered 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, with options for 8 aircraft and purchase rights for a further 20 aircraft.
Update December 2014: BA has announced that First Class will return to Vancouver from Sunday 29 March 2015 and Cape Town, Las Vegas and Phoenix from Sunday 25 October 2015. More details here
Many readers will know that, over the past five years, British Airways has been progressively updating its four class Boeing 777 and 747 aircraft with a new first class product.
The roll out on Boeing 777 aircraft has long been complete. Out of BA’s fleet of nearly fifty Boeing 747 aircraft, less than ten do not have the latest first class product. These aircraft are left with the Kelly Hoppen designed interior from the year 2000.
It is no exaggeration to say these cabins are showing their age and, in response, BA has by default offered 50,000 Avios to members of the Executive Club frequent flyer programme as compensation.
With number of 747s in BA’s fleet expected to fall to approximately thirty by 2018 and the last 747 due to retire after 2020, many of those aircraft that do not have the new first class cabin are likely to be retired over the coming year.
BA has now decided to stop selling first class on these aircraft and will instead offer a three class service, with business class passengers seated in the first class cabin (who will receive the standard “Club World” service) if there is the demand.
BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group, published its annual results last week. Overall, the group reported an operating profit of €770m, much of this coming from British Airways. IAG was particularly upbeat about the performance of the A380 aircraft, though less was said about the Boeing 787.
BA has also recently produced a dedicated microsite for both new aircraft at ournewplanes.ba.com
Today at 12:35pm UK time (if all goes to plan!) a Boeing 787 operating as British Airways flight BA191 will depart from London Heathrow Terminal 5. 10 hours and 25 minutes later it should land at Bergstrom International airport in Austin, Texas, completing the inaugural flight from London Heathrow to Austin.
Initially the service will operate five times a week, increasing to daily from 5 May 2014.
This is the first new transatlantic route launched by BA since Las Vegas in 2009 and San Diego in 2011.
It is noteworthy as this is the first route launched specifically for the Boeing 787 which has, to date, been used to either replace Boeing 767s on transatlantic flights or Boeing 777s on “thinner” Asia routes.
Although much has been made by BA and its parent company International Airlines Group that the Boeing 787 will aid the launch of new routes between London and Asia, we expect further transatlantic routes to by opened up by the 787, particularly because of the support provided by BA’s transatlantic joint-venture partner, American Airlines. Not only do more routes give BA network strength against Delta and Virgin Atlantic, but also the Middle Eastern carriers who have only begun to scratch the surface of the North America market.
British Airways continues to expand its network of Boeing 787 destinations as it takes delivery of further aircraft (some 42 of them are on order in total).
The Boeing 787 is currently flying on selected flights from London Heathrow to Toronto and Newark.
From 24 October 2014, the aircraft will fly to Chennai daily (currently served six weekly by a Boeing 777).
Also joining the list of 787 destinations later this year are Austin (new route from 3 March 2014, initially five weekly), Hyderabad (replaces daily Boeing 777 from 30 March 2014), Chengdu (replaces current thrice weekly Boeing 777 from 5 May 2014 with five weekly 787 flights), Philadelphia (selected daily flights from 5 June 2014, replacing Boeing 767) and Calgary (replaces daily Boeing 767 from 5 July 2014).
British Airways completed its first long-haul passenger flight on the Boeing 787 yesterday when BA93 departed London Heathrow for Toronto Pearson airport. The flight landed at approximately 2:55pm local time and departed for London the same evening around 7:20pm as flight BA94.
Flights to Newark on the Boeing 787 start on 1 October 2013. British Airways has yet to announce which destination will be served by the Boeing 787 route. However, it is likely to be another transatlantic route currently served by a Boeing 767 (possibly Philadelphia or Washington Dulles).
British Airways took delivery of its first Boeing 787 today and the airline has confirmed that the first two long-haul routes to feature the aircraft are New York (Newark) and Toronto. This is the first of some 42 Boeing 787 to delivered over the next few years.
A daily Boeing 787 service will operate to Toronto from 1 September 2013 with a 2nd daily 787 service between 15 September and 25 October. A daily service to New York (Newark) will operate from 1 October 2013. Full details about the aircraft are on ba.com
British Airways has today, 10 June 2013, confirmed that is to take delivery of its first Boeing 787 aircraft on 26 June 2013, and a second Boeing 787 aircraft a day later. It will take delivery of its first Airbus A380 aircraft on 4 July 2013 at a special media event at Heathrow to celebrate the introduction of two new aircraft types to its fleet.