Thomson forced to delay Dreamliner debut

Thomson Holidays, a UK-based travel operator and subsidiary of Tui Travel Plc, has been forced to postpone the planned introduction of Boeing’s problematic 787 Dreamliner aircraft for its summer schedules.

Thomson was proud to promote itself as the first UK airline to have the state-of-the-art, eco-friendly aircraft available for passengers to experience, to the extent that it had applied a £10 supplement to flights where it was utilised, but on-going technical difficulties that have plagued manufacturer, Boeing, have put back the 787’s delivery for at least 2 months. Passengers that have paid the £10 supplement for flights from May this year, when the aircraft were originally intended to go into service, will now receive a refund from the travel company, as they will not now be available until July at the earliest.

Thomson has ordered eight Dreamliners, an aircraft that is lauded for its quietness and fuel-efficiency. However, technical problems, including over-heating batteries experienced by two Japanese airlines that were among the first to take delivery of the aircraft earlier this year, have resulted in all operational aircraft being grounded and new deliveries being postponed.

A spokesman for Thomson was quoted in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘Our dedicated customer service team is in the process of contacting all customers impacted to inform them that they will now be travelling on Thomson Airways (Boeing) 767 long-haul aircraft, which have premium cabins.

‘The supplement paid for the 787 Dreamliner flight will be refunded to those customers who proceed with their original holiday bookings, and customers will also have the option to amend their holiday without incurring any amendment fees.

‘We understand how frustrating and disappointing this news will be for those customers looking forward to flying on the 787 Dreamliner. We are equally as disappointed that Boeing was not able to confirm a delivery date for us but unfortunately these circumstances are out of our control.’

Thomson likely to delay Dreamliner Launch

Thomson Airways might be forced to introduce contingency plans if the scheduled launch of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner service has to be delayed due to technical issues.

The airline had intended to commence its Dreamliner service in May this year, but technical checks that are currently being carried out on the aircraft in Japan and the USA have led to the 50 Dreamliner’s that are currently in service around the globe being grounded because of safety issues.

Thomson has yet to be given a delivery date by Boeing for its first Dreamliner, which is just one of 800 orders that are currently suspended awaiting the outcome of the safety checks. The airline had intended to use the aircraft on flights to Mexico and Florida.

In a statement on the issue, Thomson Airways said, ‘We appreciate that there are many customers who are looking forward to flying on the Dreamliner but unfortunately these circumstances are out of our control.Once we have finalised our contingency plans we will contact customers whose flights may be affected.’

Doubts about the aircraft’s safety arose when a Japan Airline 787 Dreamliner was forced to land following a fire in its on-board battery. Subsequent technical checks on the causes are believed to be veering away from the fault being with the battery itself, but rather the electrical system that monitors its charging, voltage and temperature.

Boeing has been promoting the Dreamliner as the first airliner to offer mid-size airplane capabilities on long-distance routes, and while cooperating with the investigations, they remain confident of the aircraft’s safety.

Dreamliner battery not at fault

The worldwide investigation into Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft amidst fears regarding its safety has concluded that the airplane’s battery is not at fault as first thought.

US safety officials have ruled out overcharging as the cause of the battery fire, and are now focusing on the aircraft’s battery charger and auxiliary power unit.

UK airlines Thomson Airways and British Airways are both scheduled to receive their first Dreamliner aircraft in May this year, but this is now in doubt since – as of Friday January 18 – Boeing has put deliveries of the aircraft on hold until the Federal Aviation Administration has approved its plan to assure the battery’s safety.

The global grounding of Dreamliner aircraft came last week after Japan-based All Nippon Airways was forced to make an emergency landing during one of its flights when a warning light came on in the cockpit and indicated a battery problem. Japanese investigators said that the problem could be due to an overcharging battery, but the US National Transportation Safety Board has now said that overcharging was not the cause of the incident.

In a statement, the NTSB said, ‘Examination of the flight recorder data from the JAL B787 airplane indicates that the APU (auxiliary power unit) battery did not exceed its designed voltage of 32 volts.’

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s commercial aircraft marketing vice president, commented, ‘The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist. We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the travelling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service. According to the FAA’s recent announcement, operations can resume once airlines have demonstrated the batteries are safe. Boeing is working with the FAA to define that process and timeline.’

All Dreamliner Aircraft Grounded

All 50 Boeing Dreamliner aircraft that are currently in service for various global airlines have been grounded, with Ethiopian Airlines becoming the latest of the airlines to ground its fleet.

The airlines are grounding the aircraft due to fears for its airworthiness following incidents of its onboard battery catching fire. This week two Japanese airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines, became the first to ground their Dreamliner aircraft and begin an investigation into its safety standards. The Dreamliner is touted to be the first to offer mid-size airplane capabilities on long-distance routes.

The USA’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an emergency airworthiness directive for the temporary suspension of operations for all Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the US, a decision that has resulted in the grounding of all Dreamliners flown by United Airlines.

Ethiopian Airlines has stated, ‘Ethiopian Dreamliners have not encountered the type of problems such as those experienced by the other operators.

However, as an extra precautionary safety measure and in line with its commitment of putting safety above all else, Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliners from operation and perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA.’

In a statement defending the airworthiness of Dreamliners, Boeing chairman, president and chief executive officer, Jim McNerney, said, ‘The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.

Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist.

We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the travelling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service.’

Qatar Airways to Fly Dreamliner flights to London Heathrow

Qatar Airways, a Qatar based airline company, will be introducing its brand new Dreamliner aircraft on routes between Doha and London from December 13, 2012.

The airline has taken delivery of its initial Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft recently, and is expected to take delivery of around 60 Dreamliners that are on order, over the next few years.

Qatar Airways chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker, said, ‘We are delighted at last with today’s announcement that in just over two weeks’ time, the UK market will see its first 787 on a regular full commercial service when it flies into London Heathrow.

Inaugurating our 787 on the London Heathrow route puts Qatar Airways firmly on the global aviation map as a carrier with a determination to continue its expansion drive and improve an already superior in-flight product.

Both new and existing customers in the UK and further afield on connecting flights will soon have an opportunity to fly on the most talked-about aircraft in the world in and out of London.

We have already received our second 787 with a further three to join our fleet by the end of the year. And we won’t stop there. With more 787s being inducted into the fleet next year, further route launches and our move to a brand new international airport in Doha during 2013, we continue to look forward to another year of exciting developments.

With our ever-expanding international network, more people from different parts of the world will have an opportunity to fly Qatar Airways and our new 787s to and from our Doha hub.’

The B787 aircraft will operate on flight QR075 from Doha to Heathrow. The new aircraft feature Wi-Fi Internet access, touch screen Android IFE systems, and two-class seating.

British Airways Announces Update for its Service to Australia

British Airways, a UK-based airline, will be flying its new Boeing 777-300 ER on its route to Sydney, Australia, from London, UK.

The airline had recently ended its joint venture with Australia-based Qantas Airline, putting doubt on its plans for flying to Australian destinations. The joint venture ends on March 31, 2013.

The airline is also in the process of moving its Sydney services from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport from March 31, 2013, for flights that will be operated by the Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft, featuring First, Club World, World Traveller Plus and economy cabins.

The aircraft is equipped with a new in-flight entertainment system, with a library that has 50 percent more movies and an extended range of TV and music options for customers travelling on long flights.

Passengers flying to and from Singapore will also be affected by the move from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5, as the new aircraft will be flying to Sydney via Singapore.

Jamie Cassidy, the airline area general manager for Asia Pacific, said, ‘This move confirms British Airways’ commitment to Australia.

It’s an important part of our network and we’re underlining that by putting our newest aircraft and cabins on the Sydney route and moving the flight to Terminal 5, to sit alongside the majority of our other services.’

Earlier the UK based airline had announced a partnership with Japan Airlines (JAL) for services between Europe and Japan. The two airlines will be combining their operations and introducing a revenue sharing model to operate on the routes.

The joint operations have been effective since October 1, 2012, and claim to offer more connectivity between Europe and Japan, a wider range of flight options for passengers, and enhanced frequent flyer benefits. The joint operation will be venturing into more routes soon.


Qatar Airline to Utilise Dreamliner on London Heathrow Route

Qatar Airways, a Qatar based airline company, will be putting its initial Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in to service on flights between London Heathrow and Doha from December 2012.

The airline chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker, commenting on the announcement, also said that he is in favour of an additional runway at London Heathrow airport.

He said, ‘Heathrow is bursting at the seams and has already reached a critical point.

Already heading towards a double dip recession, the UK cannot afford to lose out on the huge benefits a third runway would bring to the economy in south east England and the country as a whole through the creation of more jobs and more business opportunities.

No capacity increase will inevitably lead to further economic hardship with job losses and businesses closing down.

Heathrow is already losing out to European neighbouring hubs that have the resource to expand capacity.

Measures to expand need to be taken soon to avoid a catastrophic situation in the future. The UK government cannot afford to immerse itself in long-winded debate and public enquiries. Action needs to be taken.’

The airline is to introduce its Boeing Dreamliner aircraft on its Heathrow to Doha services, as part of its expanded services from London.

Said Baker, ‘With our Boeing 787 Dreamliner entering London Heathrow as our first long-haul route with this aircraft in a few weeks’ time, this demonstrates the level of confidence we have in our UK operations. The government needs to understand the importance of allowing airlines to expand and keep them at Heathrow otherwise there is a risk carriers will move away.’

Thomson Airways to Receive Boeing Dreamliner Aircraft

Thomson Airways, a UK based charter airline company, will be the first leisure carrier to operate a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The airline is planning to induct the initial aircraft to its flight schedule from May 1, 2013. The aircraft should be delivered to the airline by the first quarter of 2013, and it is intended to offer better travel options to the airline’s passengers.

Thomson proposes to redesign the aircraft to carry around 291 passengers, with a Premium Club cabin seating 47 passengers, and the Economy Club cabin seating 244 passengers. The airline intends to acquire eight of the 13 Dreamliners, ordered by TUI Travel, the parent travel company. The first four are likely to arrive in 2013, an additional three in 2014, and the last in 2015.

The company is inviting its guests to name its first Dreamliner through a contest on Twitter, using the hash tag, #nameourplane.

Another UK based airline, British Airways, will be acquiring its Boeing 787 Dreamliners, to be delivered in May 2013, with three aircraft set to arrive that year. The airline is also acquiring A380 aircraft, the first of which is likely to join the fleet in the second half of 2013.

The chief executive officer of the airline’s parent company, Willie Walsh, said, ‘We are in discussions with Airbus about deliveries. The A380 deliveries will be pushed back and it’s likely we will continue to take delivery of the A380s in 2013 but it will be probably towards the third quarter of the year before we take delivery of those aircraft.

The 787s remain broadly on target in terms of delivery – there’s been a little bit of slippage but nothing of any great significance.

We remain broadly on target to take delivery of the A380s and 787s.’

Ethiopian Airlines Targets August for Dreamliner Delivery

Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian), which has been the flag carrier for Ethiopia for the past 65 years, has announced that it could take delivery of its first Dreamliner aircraft in August.

The airline said that the craft would enhance its business in the region. The Dreamliner has been configured to carry 246 economy-class customers and 24 business-class customers. It is expected that the new aircraft will cement the airline’s position as one of the leading aircraft carriers in Ethiopia. Even though the initial launch of the Dreamliner craft was expected in June, its delivery had been delayed until August. The aircraft could be used to connect Johannesburg and Dubai, as previously announced.

The 787 Dreamliner is claimed to offer customers a better flying experience. For the company, acquiring the craft will mean greater efficiency to serve its point-to-point routes. It will also be able to increase its frequency of preferred and popular routes. The 787 Dreamliner claims to use 20 percent less fuel than most modern airplanes of comparable size. It also offers 45 percent more cargo revenue capacity. Other customer-centric features include a better interior environment, larger windows, better lighting, more storage space and other conveniences.

The company has so far ordered ten B787 Dreamliners.

Qatar Airways Introduces New Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft at Farnborough Air Show

Qatar Airways, a Qatar-based airline, has announced its new acquisition, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, at the international aerospace event, the Farnborough International Air Show, currently being held in Hampshire, UK.

The airline will be taking delivery of five 787 Dreamliner aircraft during 2012, and is taking the opportunity to promote the latest inclusion to its fleet.

The aircraft has also participated in an aerial display for the first time at the show.

The airline chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker, said, ‘This is a very proud moment for Qatar Airways and my country, the State of Qatar. As an airline, we have continued to push the boundaries and set new standards in global aviation for more than a decade to create a world-class airline.

The delivery of the first of our 787s reinforces our commitment to continue this trend and invest in next generation aircraft, with the aim of having the youngest and most technologically advanced fleet in the industry.

The 787 will create new benchmarks in comfort and space across both our Business and Economy cabins and continue to allow us to offer an unrivalled in-flight experience and unparalleled signature Five Star service onboard to existing passengers and new ones.’

The aircraft has an innovative interior design, with Business Class featuring 22 seats that are fully convertible into flat horizontal beds, and the Economy cabin having 232 seats. In flight amenities include iTouch touch control units, a library of 1,000 movies, programming and audio entertainment options, specially designed culinary offerings, and ample storage space for personal items.