The Dreamliner effect on route development

There are now almost 390 Boeing 787 Dreamliners flying to destinations around the world and there remains a ‘buzz’ around the modern generation airline programme with the positive impact of what the manufacturer describes as a “game-changing airplane” being used in airline marketing to highlight the equipment.

There are now almost 390 Boeing 787 Dreamliners flying to destinations around the world and there remains a ‘buzz’ around the modern generation airline programme with the positive impact of what the manufacturer describes as a “game-changing airplane” being used in airline marketing to highlight the equipment. One airline flying the type coined the phrase ‘The Dreamliner Effect’ when describing the significant uplift the aircraft is having on its business.

Boeing has always claimed the operational economics of the Dreamliner would transform the way airlines thinks about network development.  The same is the case for the Airbus A350XWB that has been developed by its rival Airbus.  These airliners fill what Boeing describes as the “sweet spot” for airline needs. The widebody twinjet's size, range and operating cost advantages (which are now being confirmed through airline service) make it the ideal tool to open up new medium- and long-haul routes.

The US manufacturer promotes it as a game-changer for what it calls "network fragmentation" as it has the ability to connect city pairs that previously did not have the volume of demand to justify regular services.  We are now seeing this come to fruition across the route maps of the over 40 airlines now regularly flying the Dreamliner – including both the original -8 variant and the stretched -9.

"Fragmentation really gives passengers more of what they want, and that's more frequent non-stop service," said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "What the 787 does is take it to an all-new level."

They may have been a little late to the market, but it’s clear that the 787 and more recently the A350XWB have opened new avenues for the world’s airlines, allowing routes that were previously not possible or not economical now a serious and sustainable option for network planners.

Globally there are now over 390 routes operated with the 787, of which around one in six are entirely new routes.  You can see where the Dreamliners are currently flying with Boeing's live tracker which charts all airborne 787 scheduled services.

“New routes have opened up due to the 787’s right size and game-changing technology and economics; this has allowed airlines to open up services,” said John Schubert, managing director, marketing Asia Pacific and India, Boeing Commercial Airplanes at the recent Routes Asia forum in Manila, Philippines.

Last year his colleague Alex Heiter, executive director – airline network and fleet planning, Boeing Commercial Airplanes said at the World Routes Strategy Summit in Durban, South Africa that the aircraft is delivering on the manufacturer’s promise of opening new markets and even developing new business models such as the low-fare, long-haul operations of Norwegian – a market he described as being only possible thanks to the “efficiency and great economics of the 787”.

Highlighting ‘network differentiation’ Heiter said at World Routes that airlines had become clever at differentiating their strategy in an increasingly competitive global market and new aircraft technologies have helped them achieve this and provide them with a competitive advantage.

“We have talked about for many years at Boeing this concept of network fragmentation and how airlines appeal to passenger preferences by offering more services to more cities non-stop and we are seeing the Boeing 787 doing just that,” he said, citing British Airways’ London – Austin and United’s San Francisco – Chengdu routes as perfect examples.

In January 2016, All Nippon Airways (ANA), the launch customer and largest current operator of the Dreamliner, celebrated the airline’s 100,000th revenue flight with the type. ANA became the first airline to introduce the modern generation airliner to passengers around the world just over five years ago in October 2011.  

Since then, the fuel-efficient airplane has enabled the carrier to launch new routes worldwide, including destinations in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia. "The 787 Dreamliner has played an important role especially in forming the backbone of our international fleet," said Osamu Shinobe, president and chief executive officer, ANA.

Data from intelligence provider, OAG, shows ANA has accounted for just under a quarter (24.1 per cent) of all 787 flights since the aircraft’s debut offering almost 30 million Dreamliner seats (32,123,007 as of March 31, 2016).

Our table below highlights the largest operators of the 787 since its entry into passenger operation.  Up until the morning of April 1, 2016 there have been 468,787 Dreamliner flights. Based on published schedules in OAG, the 500,000 total flight milestone will be passed around May 10, 2016.

Rank

Operating Airline

Departures

Seats

1

All Nippon Airways (NH)

112,808

32,123,007

2

Qatar Airways (QR)

48,615

12,336,882

3

Air India (AI)

40,052

10,225,136

4

Japan Airlines (JL)

32,277

6,084,699

5

Ethiopian Airlines (ET)

27,473

7,352,665

6

United Airlines (UA)

22,303

5,052,296

7

LAN Airlines (LA)

16,736

4,236,435

8

China Southern Airlines (CZ)

13,697

3,023,382

9

Hainan Airlines (HU)

12,184

2,583,516

10

British Airways (BA)

11,981

2,567,770

11

Jetstar Airways (JQ)

11,849

3,862,825

12

Thomson Airways (TOM)

10,707

3,104,415

13

Norwegian (DY)

10,055

2,929,462

14

Air Canada (AC)

9,155

2,330,976

15

Aeromexico (AM)

8,911

2,165,380

16

Kenya Airways (KQ)

8,147

1,906,398

17

Thai Airways International (TG)

7,883

2,081,112

18

LOT Polish Airlines (LO)

7,750

1,952,036

19

Scoot (TZ)

7,179

2,576,555

20

Royal Jordanian (RJ)

6,376

1,702,392

21

Royal Brunei Airlines (BI)

6,247

1,586,678

22

Avianca (AV)

5,486

1,371,500

23

Virgin Atlantic Airways (VS)

4,156

1,097,184

24

American Airlines (AA)

3,945

891,930

25

Arkefly (OR)

3,938

1,203,492

26

Air New Zealand (NZ)

3,680

1,111,360

27

Xiamen Airlines (MF)

3,096

730,656

28

Vietnam Airlines (VN)

2,849

712,250

29

Etihad Airways (EY)

2,547

687,690

30

Jetairfly (TB)

2,132

639,500

31

Royal Air Maroc (AT)

1,339

366,790

32

AZAL - Azerbaijan Airlines (J2)

961

201,970

33

Oman Air (WY)

932

233,000

34

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL)

717

193,590

35

Saudia (SV)

561

167,178

36

Air Europa (UX)

53

14,060

37

LAN Peru (LP)

7

1,750

38

Surinam Airways (PY)

2

500

39

LAN Argentina (4M)

1

250

TOTAL

468,787

121,408,667


The route development forum for the Americas
Indianapolis, Indiana  4 - 6 February 2020

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