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.