Perth Attracts B787 Dreamliners

8th Jul 2013

At least three major airlines will be heading to Perth to flaunt their wares, the next-generation wide-body B787s, in the hope of luring passengers to fly with them.

Air New Zealand, Jetstar and Gulf-based behemoth, Qatar Airways, are all in a race to be the first to fly a B787 to Perth, Western Australia's capital and largest city.

The B787 also known as Dreamliner is the world's first airliner whose airframe is said to have made mostly of composite materials, making it lighter than most commercial aircraft to date and 20% more fuel efficient.

Air New Zealand has confirmed early this week that it picked Perth to be the launching route to Australia for its B787-9, the stretched version of a Dreamliner. It will join Shanghai and Tokyo as one of the first three maiden destinations for the B787-9 aircraft.

The airline has chosen Perth over the eastern cities of Sydney and Melbourne for its B787-9's inaugural service to Australia simply because the western capital offers better 'operating efficiencies' from Auckland, the airline's main hub and New Zealand's largest city.

According to the airline's spokesperson, they factor in distance for choosing Perth because they consider it as an advantage for the type of aircraft used. The longer cruising time means less time on the ground which translates to fewer operating cycles. Besides, Perth offers growth prospect for the airline.

Air New Zealand is said to be the launch customer for the Dreamliner's stretched variant. The B787-9 offers more seat capacity and provides greater range than its base model.

The airline will take delivery, in succession, three of its B787-9 aircraft by the second half of 2014.

But before Air New Zealand's B787-9 could land in Perth, Australia's own low-cost airline, Jetstar, is set to inaugurate its B787 flight to Perth in November this year, making it the first major carrier to use the airliner for its Perth route.

The budget carrier will also use similar type of aircraft between major domestic routes such as Cairns, Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Coast. These destinations are currently serviced by a fleet of narrow-body A320 aircraft.

Qatar Airways, meanwhile, has long planned to deploy its B787 to Perth had it not been due to the airliner's grounding in early 2013. The February 2013 launch of the airline's Doha-Perth using B787 was stifled when the FAA ordered all Dreamliners around the world be grounded indefinitely.

The airline's spokesperson, however, didn't issue statements when sought comments about Qatar Airways' aborted plan now that FAA has lifted the ban on B787 in April.