With the first of its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners set to be delivered shortly, British Airways is expected to announce the first route to be served some time in June.
Despite considerable speculation on potential new routes, British Airways themselves have already advised that initial 787 deliveries are set to be used on existing routes, replacing some of the airline’s ageing fleet of 767s. British Airways have a total of 21 767s in operation, 7 of which are used on domestic and European routes and 14 on long-haul flights. Of those 14 aircraft used on long-haul flights, the 7 youngest (and we do use the term ‘youngest’ very loosely) are being given a semi-makeover in order to squeeze a few more years out of them. That leaves 7 long-haul 767s which need replacing – soon.
British Airways has a total of 42 787s on order. Initial orders / deliveries will be for the smallest model, the 787-8, with 4 set to be delivered in 2013 and a further 3 or 4 next year. Whether the much publicised problems the 787 has faced will lead to delays in this schedule is yet to be seen.
Even the 787-8 series, which British Airways has already advised will hold 214 passengers in a 3 cabin layout (see plan), is larger than the airline’s 767 which holds just 189 passengers, again in a 3 cabin layout. It would therefore seem logical that the new 787 will be introduced on routes where load factors are at their highest. That said, impressions also count so the airline may wish to launch the 787 with a bang and select a destination that gives it the maximum publicity.
At the moment, British Airways operates long-haul 767s to Africa, Saudi Arabia (Jeddah & Riyadh), the east coast of America (Newark, Baltimore, Washington & Philadelphia) & Canada (Calagary, Monteal & Toronto). We do not feel that Africa or Saudi Arabia will see the 787 until next year and therefore feel that it’s between the US & Canada for the first flight. As the US is so important to British Airways, our prediction is that the first destination to receive the 787 will be either Washington or Newark. Only time will tell.