Gulf Air commences new Dreamliner service from Bahrain to London

Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, has announced the introduction of a new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner double daily service to and from London.

Gulf Air’s new twice daily nonstop flights connecting Bahrain and London Heathrow Terminal-4 will reportedly be suited to both business and leisure travellers. Regional passengers will be able to connect via Bahrain to London, while UK-based travellers can fly non-stop to Bahrain, with onward connections to key cities throughout the Middle East, Africa, India Subcontinent and the Far East.

Commenting on the new service, Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer Mr. KreSimir Kucko said, ‘Gulf Air has had strong ties with the United Kingdom since we commenced our operations to London in 1970. London is a key destination for our customers travelling for either business or leisure, and I am delighted to introduce our newest 787-9 Dreamliner double daily service on this route. I look forward to receiving passenger feedback on this exciting addition to our fleet, which allows our UK travellers to travel across Gulf Air’s expanding network in superior comfort. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our key industry partners in UK who are integral to the growth and success of our London operations.’

The new state-of-the-art aircraft offers 26 Falcon Gold Class seats and 256 Economy Class seats with improved onboard services and greater entertainment choices. It boasts large overhead bins, LED lighting, and technology that senses and counters turbulence.

In 2018, Gulf Air’s network will serve 49 cities in 26 countries. Gulf Air operates double daily flights or more to select destinations across the GCC, MENA region, Indian Subcontinent and Europe while its network spans the GCC, MENA region, Indian Subcontinent, Europe and the Far East.

Virgin Atlantic introduces 787-9 Dreamliner on Delhi-London route

British airline Virgin Atlantic is operating its 787-9 Dreamliner on the Delhi-London route – the first European carrier to operate the larger Boeing aircraft on this flight.

Virgin Atlantic operates seven daily flights every week from Delhi to London with many onward connections, including New York.

Passengers travelling on the maiden 787-9 Dreamliner flight to London from Delhi on March 31 were offered the chance to take a ‘First Flight Selfie’ whilst checking-in and boarding the flight from Delhi IGI airport. Virgin Atlantic has recently introduced the ultimate #SkyhighSelfie on its 787 aircraft, offering customers the opportunity to check in on Facebook and share their photos from 35,000 feet.

‘We’ve been serving and delighting our customers for 15 years from Delhi and the launch of the Dreamliner, with our latest cabin interiors, further demonstrates our commitment to India and enables us to build on the success of our Delhi route,’ Nick Parker, Head of India and Middle East for Virgin Atlantic said.

‘We know our Indian customers are going to love flying our Dreamliner. Every aspect has been meticulously designed to enhance their experience; not only seats and social spaces, inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi, but we’ve also invested in other areas that are so important to customers, including the onboard meal services. I’m delighted to confirm that we’ve increased the number of our fantastic local Indian crew on each flight, who along with our exceptional airport team, will deliver the personalised Virgin Atlantic service that our customers so love,’ he added.

The 787-9 Dreamliners are configured with 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium Economy and 198 Economy seats. Features offered onboard include access to Wi-Fi connectivity, the latest in-flight entertainment, dynamic mood lighting and cabin windows 65 percent larger than the industry standard.


Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner hit by further setback

Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner has been hit by a further setback, as wiring defects have been discovered in the fire-extinguisher system on three of its aircraft.

The fault was found on jets operated by Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA), the model’s biggest operator. The fault is likely to trigger the wrong extinguisher in the event of a blaze in one of the two engines, ANA said. The problem, the latest in a series of setbacks for Boeing’s 787, was first discovered during pre-flight maintenance of a jet at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, an ANA spokeswoman said.

Japan Airlines called back a 787 travelling from Tokyo to Helsinki to check the wiring after ANA reported the fault on Wednesday. Boeing said it was investigating the defect.

‘The safety of those flying on Boeing aeroplanes is our top priority. We will thoroughly examine this issue and take the appropriate steps,’ the company said.

Boeing’s flagship jet, which made its commercial debut in 2011, is already under scrutiny after a fire broke out on a 787 Dreamliner jet operated by Ethiopian Airlines while it was parked at Heathrow airport. The 787 had only returned to service with ANA and Japan Airlines on June 1 after battery problems grounded the entire fleet earlier this year.

US carrier, United Airlines, has also found a pinched wire during an inspection of one of its six 787s.

Boeing has since asked airlines to carry out inspections of the transmitters, and it has also asked operators of other aircraft models, the 717, Next-Generation 737, 747-400, 767 and 777, to inspect their aircraft.

According to its website, Boeing delivered 73 Dreamliners to 13 customers up until August 7, with more than 29,000 flights completed.

Thomson Dreamliner diverted due to fog

The Thomson Dreamliner passenger jet, which was recently turned back after ‘experiencing a technical issue’, was again halted and redirected due to fog.

The flight from Cancun, Mexico, to Manchester, due in at 6.45am, was halted for over 30 minutes and diverted to Gatwick. The 264 passengers were kept on the runway for three hours before the flight could go back to Manchester when the fog had cleared. The travellers were informed that the autopilot feature that was needed to land the Boeing 787 in cloud had not been properly tested.

Thomson Airways, travel company TUI’s own airline, was the first British customer for Boeing’s new plane. The mist-hit £130million Dreamliner was previously forced to turn back over the Atlantic on Friday as a ‘precautionary measure’ while on the way to Cancun. It was fitted with new parts before it resumed the flight.

Peter Morris, a passenger flying back home after spending two weeks in the Mexican hotspot, told The Sun: ‘The captain said they’re only allowed to fly on manual because it’s a new plane and the autopilot has not been approved for use yet.’

‘This is the newest and most advanced plane in the world. I cannot get my head round the idea they would let it take to the skies without it being able to use the autopilot,’ he added.

A spokesman for Thomson Airways confirmed the jet was diverted due to fog and apologised for the delay. ‘Our pilot informed customers that he was not allowed to use the autopilot in fog on this occasion. Any airline operating a new aircraft has to ensure that a particular number of autopilot landings have taken place before they are allowed to use it to land in fog,’ he said.

The news comes as an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner caught fire at Heathrow Airport last week. The investigation had however ruled out any problems with over-heating batteries. Boeing’s Dreamliners fleet was earlier grounded for three months in January after its lithium-ion batteries overheated on two jets in about a week. It resumed commercial service in May after Boeing installed a redesigned battery system on the 50 jets in service.

Boeing launched the 787 Dreamliner in 2011 after investing £20 billion in its faster, lighter, more fuel-efficient design.

Boeing Dreamliner fire revives safety concerns

Concerns over the safety of the world’s newest passenger plane have increased after a Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Ethiopian Airlines caught fire at Heathrow airport on Friday, and another 787 carrying British holidaymakers to Florida returned home after a technical fault.

The Ethiopian Airlines incident led to closure of runways at the London airport, as arrivals and departures were suspended for about an hour and a half until emergency services put out the fire. Heathrow said that the aircraft was parked on a remote stand and no passengers were aboard. The disruption hit about 80 arrivals and departures at Heathrow, causing delays of up to three hours and leading to the cancellation of at least 27 flights.

While the cause of the blaze is yet to be determined, the fire raised concerns that recurrent problems with the high-tech lithium batteries had not been resolved. The BBC reported that the plane on fire at Heathrow was the first 787 Dreamliner to resume flights after the grounding.

In a separate incident on Friday afternoon, a new Thomson Airways Dreamliner plane returned to Manchester airport after taking off on a transatlantic flight. Thomson began services for the first time last month, after the long-delayed delivery of its first 787s.

Thomson Airways, travel giant TUI’s own airline, was the first British customer for Boeing’s new plane, and the company commented that its flight TOM126 to Sanford, Florida, ‘experienced a technical issue’, with the aircraft returning to Manchester airport as a precautionary measure. ‘Passengers have disembarked and our dedicated team of engineers is now inspecting the aircraft. Our customers will be moved to an alternative aircraft to ensure they get away on their holiday as soon as possible,’ a spokesperson said, adding: ‘The safety of our customers and crew is of paramount importance and we would like to apologise for the delay caused.’

According to flight tracking data, the plane circled the coast off north Wales, apparently to dump fuel before landing. Thomson charges its passengers a GBP10 premium each way to fly in the 787, with seats only available as part of a holiday.

The pioneering Boeing 787, a ‘plastic plane’ made mostly of carbon fibre with more systems running on electric circuits, has been heralded as a far quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Production problems had initially delayed the commercial service by three years until late 2011. A series of incidents – including two battery fires on All Nippon airways in January this year, resulted in US safety authorities recommending the grounding of the entire worldwide fleet. Ethiopian Airlines was the last airline to withdraw its four Dreamliners from service and the first to restart operations in late May.

British Airways has ordered 24 of the planes, and took delivery of its first Dreamliner two weeks ago, while Virgin Atlantic is set to get the first of its 16 Dreamliners in September 2014.

UK’s first long haul commercial Dreamliner takes off

The UK’s first long haul commercial flights using the troubled 787 Dreamliner aircraft took off from Glasgow airport on Monday morning.

Thomson Airways flight TOM518 to Cancun in Mexico was seen off from Gate 29 with haggis, Irn Bru and champagne for passengers on the jetlag-busting Boeing 787. Chris Browne, managing director of Thomson Airways, was among the special guests.

The introduction of the ‘revolutionary’ aircraft has been a ‘major milestone’ for operators, Browne said.

The 787 is constructed using composite materials and new engines from General Electric and Rolls Royce. The plane features mood lighting, improved cabin pressure, windows and extra legroom seats to help offset the effects of jetlag. The lightweight construction makes the Dreamliner nearly 20 percent more fuel-efficient than equivalent aircraft in use and it is also 60 percent quieter.

Each aircraft can carry up to 291 passengers and fly up to an altitude of 38,000ft (11,500m). The plane was originally expected to go into commercial service in 2008, but was delayed due to production difficulties. Japanese carrier, All Nippon Airways, operated the first commercial flight in October 2011.

Thomson had planned to use the 787s from May, but all 50 were grounded in January due to faulty batteries. Boeing’s international fleet of Dreamliners was also grounded and deliveries stopped for three months, after a battery on an All Nippon Airlines 787 caught fire and a malfunction forced another flight to make an emergency landing. Flights using the aircraft were reintroduced with new batteries in April.

Thomson Airways has said that it is planning to take delivery of eight 787s in total.

British Airways has taken delivery of the first 2 of 42 Dreamliners ordered over the next 10 years, and Virgin Atlantic is scheduled to receive the first of its 16 Dreamliners in September 2014.


Dreamliner routes announced by BA

British Airways, a UK-based airline company, has announced the routes that it will operate initially using its newly arrived Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The airline is to use the new aircraft on routes to Toronto in Canada and Newark in the USA, with the Heathrow to Toronto service commencing from September 1 this year, and the Newark service commencing one month later on October 1. The two routes currently operate Boeing 747, 767 and 777 aircraft.

When BA’s first new Dreamliner touched down at Heathrow yesterday, Willie Walsh, the chief executive of the company’s owner, International Airlines Group, was there to welcome it. He commented, ‘The 787 is a tremendous, innovative aircraft which sets new standards for environmental performance and operating efficiency and I’m sure British Airways’ customers will love it. The 787 will become a mainstay of the British Airways fleet over the next few years.’

BA’s Dreamliners will each have the capacity to carry 214 passengers across three classes of travel: Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller. The company has a further 23 of the state-of-the-art aircraft on order, with 18 more optioned and likely to be confirmed, subject to shareholder approval.

Speaking on behalf of Boeing, Todd Nelp, vice president of European sales, said, ‘The delivery of the first of BA’s 787s is an exciting milestone for Boeing and British Airways. The 787 is the most technologically advanced and fuel-efficient commercial jetliner in its class. Its improved lighting, bigger windows, larger overhead bins, lower cabin altitude and cleaner cabin air will offer BA’s passengers an unparalleled flying experience.’


BA prepares for aircraft deliveries

British Airways, a UK-based airline, is preparing for the delivery of three new aircraft over the next four weeks.

Two Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft will be arriving in the UK later this month, following the model being given the all clear over a problem with an overheating battery that dogged it in the early part of this year. The two aircraft will arrive mid-morning on consecutive days, June 26 and 27.

The airline’s new Airbus A380 is due to arrive mid-morning on July 4.

Once all of the aircraft are in service, British Airways will be the first airline in Europe to have Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner in its fleet.

British Airways chief executive, Keith Williams, said, ‘The delivery of these exciting aircraft opens a new chapter in British Airways’ history.

‘We are proud to be leading the way in Europe in operating both these aircraft types.

‘Over the next 12 months, we will take delivery of new long-haul aircraft at an average rate of one every two weeks.

‘These deliveries form the centrepiece of the £5 billion investment British Airways is making in new aircraft, smarter cabins, superb lounges and new technologies to make travel more comfortable in the air and on the ground. Both aircraft types make major environmental advances and will contribute toward our ambitious targets for noise and carbon reduction.’

The A380 aircraft is already scheduled to commence commercial flights to Los Angeles on October 15, this year, and Hong Kong from November 15. The 787’s first destinations are yet to be revealed.

New battery problem grounds JAL Dreamliner

A new battery problem has grounded a Japan Airlines (JAL) Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Japan Airlines, one of the first companies to report a problem with the Dreamliner’s overheating battery pack back in January this year, has been forced to replace one of its recently reinstated aircraft due to another problem with the battery installation. This time the fault was with the pressure sensor that monitors the battery’s temperature, according to reports in the Japanese media. The battery pack has already undergone a number of modifications following the initial problem. According to Japanese broadcaster, Kyodo, citing JAL, the problem was due to faulty maintenance by Boeing, as two small ventilation holes in the battery’s container had been inadvertently sealed when the battery system was repaired.

Once the problem had been recognised, JAL immediately dropped the aircraft from its scheduled flight between Tokyo and Beijing, despite the fact that the oversight was not considered an immediate safety risk, and replaced it with a Boeing 767, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Boeing 787 Dreamliners have recently gone back into service worldwide following the manufacturer’s diagnosis of the overheating problem and the provision of a battery redesign to rectify it. Deliveries of the new aircraft to customers, which had also been delayed, have now resumed, with Thomson Airways becoming the first UK-based carrier to add a 787 to its fleet on Friday.

Thomson’s managing director, Chris Browne, said that no customer had registered concern about flying on the 787, adding, ‘Customers have been very understanding. They trust Thomson and Boeing not to put an unsafe aircraft in the air.’


Dreamliner’s Heathrow return

Boeing’s battle against the problems that have afflicted its 787 Dreamliner aircraft has taken another step forward today with the arrival of the first scheduled flight into London Heathrow airport since the plane was grounded, worldwide, in January.

Doha-based carrier Qatar Airways has virtually repeated its achievement of being the first air carrier to bring the Dreamliner to Heathrow when it was first launched back in December, by being the first to fly it back into the UK’s busiest airport now that safety concerns have been addressed.

The aircraft suffered its international grounding approximately five months ago, following reports by two Japanese airlines that on board batteries were prone to overheating. A lengthy investigation followed, culminating in a solution being found to the problem that satisfied the world’s aviation authorities. Scheduled flights in other parts of the world have already recommenced.

Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways chief executive, said, ‘The Doha – Heathrow route is one of our most popular international routes, and so I’m thrilled that our Dreamliners are back in the skies, providing our passengers with an unparalleled level of service and comfort to and from the UK.I have always hailed the Dreamliner as the state-of-the-art aircraft destined to change the way people travel. After a setback that not only affected our own worldwide operations, but those of many carriers worldwide, we look forward to now deploying the Dreamliner on other key routes over the coming weeks.’

Delays in deliveries of the new aircraft caused by its technical difficulties mean that Qatar Airways is currently the only airline that will be operating scheduled Dreamliner flights to Heathrow.