British Airways (BA) has launched passenger flights with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as it reaches the final stage of its preparations for its entry into service on long-haul routes from September 1, 2013. One of the UK carrier’s two aircraft operated a special charter flight, BA9116C, from and to Edinburgh Airport on the evening of August 8, 2013 with a specially invited passenger manifest. This list included senior business leaders from Scotland, some of BA’s frequent flyers and other commercially important passengers, representatives from the airline and airport and Routesonline popped along for the ride!
The Dreamliner arrived in the Scottish capital on the afternoon of August 8, 2013 having already performed an air-to-air sortie with a World War Two Spitfire, completed a number of flypasts of the factory of aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce and made a fleeting visit to Newcastle, another destination served in the BA domestic network with, like Edinburgh, strong long-haul connectivity via London Heathrow.
The short flight, dubbed by the BA crew as the ‘Dreamliner Inaugural’, took the aircraft on a course over Northern Scotland, passing Aberdeen and flying along the Moray Firth towards Inverness before turning to the south around Elgin and returning to Edinburgh. The special flight provided BA to showcase the aircraft to Edinburgh’s elite and its some of its biggest trade customers from the city, its largest station outside of London.
Although the 787 can hold up to 214 passengers in was its premium Club World Business Class cabin that provided comfort for much of the passengers. The 35-seat section has mix of forward and backward facing seats and some passengers not akin to the configuration arrangement were eager to sample the sensation of flying with your back to the cockpit. “It was a different experience, but one I would certainly like to repeat,” an executive of Visit Edinburgh told Routesonline.
Here is what Andy Lord, Director of Operations at British Airways, had to say about the Dreamliner when Routesonline spoke to him whilst cruising at around 30,000ft on the first passenger flight:
Although Edinburgh Airport has no scheduled routes planned with the Boeing 787, Chief Executive Officer, Gordon Dewar is confident that the special BA flight will not be the last Dreamliner arrival. “We hope it’s the first of many,” he told Routesonline. You can hear why BA is such an important partner to the airport and how proud the airport was to host the airline’s inaugural passenger flight here.
As BA’s Andy Lord mentioned in the top video, the 787 will operate its first passenger flight with fare-paying customers on August 9, 2013 between London Heathrow and Stockholm Arlanda and the aircraft will continue to serve that route on an ad hoc basis before entering scheduled long-haul operations. BA will launch scheduled passenger flights with the type on September 1, 2013 between London Heathrow and Toronto Pearson, followed by a service from London to Newark Liberty International Airport from October 1, 2013.
In this second video Andy Lord highlights the role the aircraft will play in BA’s network development strategy supporting the replacement of its ageing 767 fleet while at the same time opening up new network opportunities on thinner routes that cannot be served sustainably with larger aircraft, like the 777 and 747.
Hosting this momentous occasion comes in what has been a hugely successful period for Edinburgh Airport since it was taken over by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). The airport celebrated the first anniversary of its new ownership at the start of June and Gordon Dewar is proud of the achievements during the 12 month period.
"The last 12 months have seen some tremendous changes at Edinburgh Airport. Since our new owners came on board, our new management team has prioritised the development of Edinburgh's route network and passionately driven our desire to provide passengers with the best experience,” said Dewar.
"We've entered 2013 with a renewed focus on our passengers and will continue to prioritise the development of new routes. In addition to this we also have a new brand which sets us apart from other airports. We now stand alone and we're responsible for ensuring that Edinburgh Airport provides nothing short of a warm and friendly welcome to all passengers. It is a responsibility we relish,” he added.
Here is what he told Routesonline after the inaugural BA 787 passenger service arrived back at Edinburgh Airport.