Pushing ahead with it’s 787 expansion, Japan Airlines will be the first international airline to introduce Boeing 787 services to Sydney. Operating the daily JL771/772 service from Tokyo Narita, the Boeing 787-8 will replace the Boeing 777 currently operated from December 1.

Three months after the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was grounded in late-January, the aircraft and programme are back in the air. With safety fixes for the aircraft’s battery system approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, airlines are bursting with renewed confidence in the besieged programme and planning the aircraft’s re-entry into service on routes around the globe.

Both Japan’s All Nippon Airlines (ANA) and JAL each suffered separate fire incidents in the 787’s lithium-ion battery, and are now working to restore the Japanese public’s confidence in the aircraft before they resume services on June 1. Over the next few weeks both carriers plan to undertake more than 200 test flights for pilot training and battery system verification demonstrating to the public the safety of the aircraft.

With the arrival of the 787 into the Australian market imminent, airlines will soon have a host of new operational opportunities into the country. Initially for JAL, the substantial product upgrade, but capacity downgrade of the 787 reduces available seat capacity on the Tokyo – Sydney route by 24%; instantly improving Qantas capacity share and competitiveness on a market that has struggled since its 1997 peak.  However, the economics of the 787-8 provides the potential to introduce new routes and improved schedules to destinations across Asia and beyond, encouraging growth and allowing markets to mature with the potential to increase capacity with the 787-9 from sometime after 2016. Up-gauging to an aircraft with a similar operating cost, but significantly increased capacity also delivers airlines greater pricing flexibility, to stimulate even more demand through lower fares or the ability to extract higher margins from operations.

The unprecedented level of regulatory and developmental scrutiny afforded the 787 will ultimately deliver an exceptionally safe next generation aircraft. There may be some initial tepidness from passengers in booking on the 787, but ultimately the romance of a revolutionary aircraft will draw them back. It’s been a long wait, but the 787 is almost here.

Carry-on will be flying on the inaugural Sydney service, bringing you all the excitement of the day. Stay tuned.

Boeing’s full page すみません (apology). Image: Yoshiaki Miura, Japan Times.