787 enables ANA to begin Seattle route–after an interim 777 solution

Japan’s All Nippon Airlines, the launch customer of the Boeing 787, said yesterday that the new, high-tech airplane is the enabler that prompted it to schedule its first service from Tokyo to Seattle.

Never mind that initial service begins in August with the Boeing 777-300ER and the 787 service won’t begin until October (ironically, with a 787 that will be delivered in August).

The seeming contradiction is explained by an initial summer-time surge in passenger demand that makes the 777 a viable start. Seattle is a highly seasonal market and the smaller-capacity and more fuel efficient 787 is what makes the 787 the preferred choice, ANA said during a celebratory event yesterday.

ANA will need all the advantages it can get from the 787’s lower fuel burn. The airline will be challenging giants Delta Air Lines and United Airlines on the routes. Delta operates the Airbus A330-300, a highly efficient airplane, and United uses the 777-200ER. Each has a good feeder system to Seattle and each has a good hub in Tokyo.

ANA, which like United, is a member of the Star Alliance, terminates its service in Seattle but it has a much better hub than UAL and DAL in Tokyo. It’s counting on the beyond-Tokyo strength to support its route. The daily traffic is 1,000 passengers but only 200 are between Seattle and Tokyo.

ANA’s 787s now is service are the heavy-spec ones with Rolls-Royce engines that initially have not been up to spec. Even so, the 787s are 21% more fuel efficient than ANA’s Boeing 767-300ERs, the airline said. ANA did not offer a comparison vs its 777s.

15 Comments on “787 enables ANA to begin Seattle route–after an interim 777 solution

  1. Wouldn’t it be more economical, with fewer seats available (wasted) if NH used its B-767-300ERs on the NRT-SEA route instead of the B-777-300ER?

  2. “The 787s are 21% more fuel efficient than ANA’s Boeing 767-300ERs,” that’s
    great, but NOT surprising!
    What happened to the original Boeing announced goal for the 787, i.e.”To pro-
    vide an airplane that will enable people living in smaller cities around the world
    with direct nonstop services, bypassing the big congested hubs and do so at a
    lower cost”?
    Now JAL will be operating 787 NRA-SEA, after having started NRA-FRA, forcing
    LH to operate FRA-NRA and there are already several other ex-amples like it.
    Does this mean that the smaller cities will now NOT be connected with or with-
    out efficient low-operating cost aircraft for a long time and that the major hubs
    will become even more congested than they already have been, with an ever
    larger number of 787s/A350s, until there are much larger all-carbon-fiber air-
    craft going to be available?

    • Well, if the airlines decide to run their airplanes wherever and to whatever place they like and where they feel would make them more money, what can the manufacturer do to prevent it? After all, airlines are in the business to make money, not just make customers happy, or so I thought.

  3. Isn’t it interesting how folks are conveying Boeing’s and ANA’s claim of a 21% improvement in fuel burn without knowing squat what that exactly means? What is the reference aircraft, how do seat counts and load factors compare, just to name the bare essentials?
    Poor is the analyst who bases his assesment on marketing figures!

    • It has been stated many times here, and elsewhere, the reference airplane the B-787-800 numbers are compared to is the B-767-300ER. It does not compare CASM, mearly the total fuel burn between the B-788 and B-763 on a perticular route (NRT-FRA).

      • So you have run aground on that piece of perception management too? Your interpretation is physically impossible afaiu.

  4. If, “Delta operates the Airbus A330-300, a highly efficient airplane,” then how are A350XWB’s or B787’s characterized? Maybe, “super highly efficient?”

    So, “efficient” is a subjective adjective used to convey a feeling. In this blog, there must be a multitude of opinions based on perspective. “Efficient,” in fuel consumption given some standard criteria, “efficient,” in making profits considering all expenses, etc. Then, as follows, “United uses the 777-200ER,” it must be something other than, “highly efficient.”

    Plus, ANA’s use of the -300ER in the high season isn’t either, and therefore we should believe airlines are buying aircraft based on feelings.

  5. Gentlemen: The point I was trying to make, was mainly aimed at airport con-
    gestion and not necessarily the “efficiency” of the 787 aircraft, which is the
    driver I agree.
    Yes, the airlines should and will decide where to fly their aircraft, but if most of
    the les-efficient large wide-body aircraft are going to be replaced with 787/
    A350’s between the major and already overcrowded hubs, aviation would
    not only come to a standstill on those routes, but what would the airlines do
    with all the redundant large wide-body aircraft?
    So I presume that what is happening now is a temporary phenomena, which
    will have to change due to overcrowding at the major hubs, but it will also
    cause a more rapid replacement of existing wide-body aircraft with all carbon-
    fiber aircraft, if and when they can afford it and when the manufacturers have
    the finances/capacity to do so.

    • I agree with you Rudy that for congested airports it is preferable to have a higher capacity aircraft. We will eventually reach a point where we will have no choice. Unfortunately higher capacity also means lower frequency. But that is a normal consequence for congested airports. There is only one solution and it is to carry more people on each flight.

      That being said, the Boeing 777-300ER is a great interim aircraft that satisfies this requirement in many cases. And when Boeing will have introduced the 777X it will make a great aircraft even better. Possibly much better. So much so that it might actually compete directly with the 787 on some routes that can accommodate a higher capacity aircraft. In which case the 787 would be redeployed on the long thin routes for which it was designed.

      Since the A350-1000 is positioned between the two it could also become an interesting alternative for some operators. You are right to point out that we need more efficient, higher capacity, aircraft. But it looks like we only have a few more years to wait.

      For the time being the 787 will remain in class by itself and airlines will use it on a variety of routes until other alternatives come on the market. I think that in a not too distant future we will be in a better position to reach a more desirable capacity distribution with highly efficient aircraft of different sizes.

  6. Rudy has pointed out that the marketing concept for Boeing seems to have goen a bit awry. Their claim was that the 787, and not the A380, would be the future of civil passenger transport due to the ability of the smaller 787 to be able to bypass hubs and allow a point to point network.

    While it is most certainly true that the airlines are not beholden to this concept, it does indicate that part of Boeing’s analysis/strategy vis a vis the 787 was not quite right.

    Doesn’t seem to have affected the sales situation though.

    • It is still too early to tell if Boeing’s strategy is working or not. We will have to wait until the 777X and A350-1000 come on the market to find out the true place where the Dreamliner belongs.

      The 787 has no direct competition at the moment in terms of efficiency and comfort. Therefore the airlines have no other choices but to use it on a variety of routes where any other existing models would be more costly to operate and less desirable for passengers. The A380 is the only other aircraft capable of competing with the 787, but its huge capacity is more restrictive.

      I think that it will only be when highly efficient large capacity aircraft, other than the A380, come on the market that we will find out if Boeing had well positioned the 787 or not. But it all depends on the definition we have of “long thin routes” (LTR). My own definition of LTR would include hubs as well a point to point destinations.

      I always believed that point to point was a very promising concept, but only for regional aviation. But for international routes, “thin” or “dense”, I think the hub will remain the preferred destination for a long time. In that sense we could say that the 787 original point to point concept, which entails bypassing the hub altogether, was probably a failure.

      In the meantime we will continue to go through hubs either in high capacity/low frequency (A380), or low capacity/high frequency (787). In my opinion that is where the dividing line is. Not in the “hub” versus “point to point” concepts.

  7. Aero NInja :
    Doesn’t seem to have affected the sales situation though.

    The 787 sales have remained relatively slow in recent months because of the huge backlog and slow production rate. The new price is also less attractive. But if the aircraft is as fuel efficient as predicted, and if the maintenance costs are as low as expected, and if the reliability level is at least as high as for more conventional designs, then we can expect the sales to pick up speed again when the 787 situation will have stabilized.

    For the time being it remains a bitter-sweet success.

  8. Mega hubs are already having problems inside EU, no night traffic etc

    I for one see the advantage of the P2P long and thin routes, they are less dependent on NIMBYs..No flight beyond 11PM, how does a VLA help you then?11PM will become 10PM with time..

    This is why Airbus chickend out and built the A350, if the VLA hub-hub fails they can fall back on the somewhat too large A350 on long and thin :)Hub-hub will not work when NIMBYS decide..Secondary airports connected by rail maybe the future model, where the surrounding area welcomes more business instead of voting for curfews.

  9. In this Hubs versus P2P debate, people forget to consider the related issue of capacity versus frequency. That is because Boeing has obscured the debate with its concept of Long Thin Routes for which the 787 has supposedly been designed by serving P2P destinations. That’s just baloney.

    It’s also irresponsible because it encourages frequency to the detriment of capacity. And the funny thing is that Boeing has deliberately positioned the 787 against the A380. That’s just more baloney. Like comparing apples withy grapefruits. Enough to go bananas!

  10. One thing to also consider is UA/NH have JV/ATI on most, if not all TPAC routes (IIRC) so in theory it will be really UA+NH versus DL.

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