Boeing’s first 787 Dreamliner landed in Tokyo on Wednesday, greeted by a phalanx of media, company executives and excited plane spotters.
The plane ̶ painted in the blue and white ANA livery with red highlights ̶ touched down at Tokyo's Haneda airport shortly after 9:00 am (0000 GMT), three years after it was originally promised to All Nippon Airways.
Shinichiro Ito, president and CEO of ANA, who travelled on the plane from the U.S. after taking delivery from Boeing, declared himself “delighted” with “the aircraft’s first touchdown... after a trouble-free flight.”
Boeing says the twin-aisle 787’s construction, partly from lightweight composite materials, means it consumes 20 percent less fuel than comparable planes, an attractive proposition for airlines facing soaring fuel costs.
The company has also been touting the larger windows, bigger luggage storage bins and cabins with more humidity than conventional jets, a factor it says will reduce passenger fatigue.
The delivery of the 787, however, comes after a string of technical mishaps and delays that have cost U.S.-based Boeing billions of dollars in lost or cancelled orders.
ANA had originally been told to expect the first of its 55 ordered planes in early 2008.
Airline president Ito said the new fleet will play a “key part” in his plans for international expansion.
The Japanese carrier is planning to begin the world’s first commercial 787 service on the Tokyo to Hong Kong route in October, followed by regular flights to Beijing and Frankfurt.
ANA, in common with other high-end carriers, is facing increasing competition from budget airlines and is banking on the 787 to boost demand and cut costs.
The company was hit particularly hard by the impact of Japan’s March 11 quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, which suffocated the incoming tourist industry and crimped domestic demand.
It logged a group operating loss of 8.1 billion yen ($106.1 million) in April-June and responded by cutting services and using smaller planes to cope with the post-quake drop in passenger numbers.