Source: The Seattle Times
Author: Dominic Gates
All Nippon Airways of Japan said Thursday it will fly Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner daily in and out of Seattle starting in October.
ANA, the 787’s launch customer, is opening the route with daily return flights between Tokyo and Seattle on July 25, using a larger 777 airplane for the peak summer travel season.
The airline said it will switch from the 247-seat 777-300ER to the 158-seat Dreamliner in October but did not provide a precise date.
Both Delta and United already offer daily service from Seattle to Tokyo. In opening the route, ANA will compete directly with Delta and will partner with United.
United and ANA in January announced a transpacific joint-venture agreement to share mileage plans and coordinate schedules to offer flights at different times with connecting flights at either end. The two will also share revenues on the transpacific routes.
Yuji Hirako, ANA senior vice president for the Americas, said the airline has determined that about 200 passengers travel daily between Seattle and Japan, and about 1,000 daily between Seattle and Asia.
ANA expects to fly its planes on average 70 percent full, targeting the continuing traffic traveling beyond Japan. For example, it flies from Tokyo to 10 cities in China.
A Seattle-Tokyo round-trip ticket on ANA costs about $1,200 in economy class, and starts at $7,500 for business class.
Hirako said that passengers flying ANA’s first international Dreamliner route between Tokyo and Frankfurt have been overwhelmingly positive about the experience, with 94 percent in a passenger survey stating that the airplane met or exceeded expectations.
One innovative feature of the 787 cabin is the window that can change from clear to opaque to dark at the touch of a button.
Hirako said that in advance of opening the first long-haul route, ANA engineers were concerned that the windows might not go dark enough to allow passengers to sleep on the 12-hour trip to Frankfurt.
Boeing installed a dark film over the windows as a temporary solution, and so far ANA has had no passenger complaints, he said.
“We are now talking with Boeing for a permanent solution,” Hirako said. He added that ANA doesn’t want to revert to conventional pull-down shutters.
Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org