Boeing celebrated two milestones in the roll-out of its B787 Dreamliner aircraft over the weekend, with the deliveries of the first aircraft to China and the UK.
On Friday, spectators and officials of Thomson Airways, which forms part of TUI Travel, gathered at Manchester airport to welcome the arrival of the first of eight new B787s. Then on Sunday, China Southern Airlines welcomed the first of 10 Dreamliners it plans to operate from Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport.
Thomson and China Southern become the ninth and tenth airlines to operate the Dreamliner, and take total deliveries of the fuel-efficient twin-aisle aircraft to 57.
Thousands of people gathered at Manchester airport to watch Thomson’s Dreamliner arrive, following a flight from Boeing’s factory in Everett, Washington state. Senior executives, including Thomson’s managing director Chris Browne and Boeing’s vice president of Marketing, Randy Tinseth, were onboard the delivery flight.
“After much anticipation, we are very excited to welcome the 787 Dreamliner to our fleet and as the first airline in the UK, hope our customers will enjoy the unique experience of this revolutionary aircraft,” said Browne.
“The extended flying range of the Dreamliner also unlocks a host of new and exciting holiday options for our customers, increasing the range of long-haul destinations available with Thomson Airways from four UK airports. Customers will be amazed at the unique look, feel and service – all of which will ensure the unique Thomson holiday experience starts as soon as they step on board this fabulous new aircraft.”
Initially Thomson will operate the B787s on charter flights from Manchester to Cancun and Florida, but earlier this year executives revealed they also plan to operate the aircraft from London to Phuket.
The Thomson B787 will carry 291 passengers in a two-class layout, with 47 seats in business class and 244 in economy.
China Southern’s Dreamliner meanwhile, will offer three cabin classes with 228 seats – four in first class, 24 in business class and 200 in economy class. After a period of tests, it will be put into operation on domestic routes between Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai, before being rolled out on international routes later on.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s delivery, Boeing’s commercial head, Ray Conner, said the first Chinese delivery represented “a significant new milestone” for the company in China.
“We thank the Chinese government agencies, China Southern and all our Chinese customers, and suppliers for their support and contributions to the success of the Dreamliner programme, he added.”
This delivery is the first of 10 Dreamliners for China Southern, and will be followed shortly by the delivery of the first of 10 B787s for Hainan Airlines. Air China has also ordered the aircraft.
From now until the end of the year, several more airlines plan to take delivery of their first Dreamliners, including British Airways, Jetstar and Norwegian. In total, Boeing plans to delivery 60 B787s this year, as it bid to clear a backlog of more than 830 unfulfilled orders.