More Airlines Plan London Dreamliner Operations in 2015

Two further Boeing 787 operators have revealed tentative plans to deploy the modern generation airliner on routes to London in 2015 – Kenya Airways and Vietnam Airlines. The UK capital is already among the top five global cities for scheduled Dreamliner operations with 13 airlines using the type on flights to and from Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

In a latest update to GDS schedules, Kenya Airways plans to utilise the 787 on its daily Nairobi – London Heathrow route from January 19, 2015, replacing a 777-200ER. This will be the second European destination to be served by the African carrier with the type after Paris Charles de Gaulle in France.

Meanwhile, a similar GDS inventory update shows that Vietnam Airlines, which has yet to take delivery of its first of the type, plans to introduce the aircraft on its flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to London Gatwick from July 2015. The aircraft will debut on the twice weekly Hanoi link from July 1, 2015 and the Ho Chi Minh route from July 3, 2015: the latter will be boosted from two to three weekly frequencies to coincide with the new deployment.

It is just over two years since the first 787 flights were launched to the UK capital and at periods this year more than 740 flights a month, around 24 departures a day have been recorded using the Dreamliner.

According to OAG Schedules Analyser, Ethiopian Airlines was the first operator to use the type on a regular passenger service to London with a flight arriving at Heathrow Airport from Rome on September 17, 2012 and departing that same evening back to Addis Ababa.

All Nippon Airways had previously become the first operator of a passenger 787 service to land in London after a flight from Tokyo Haneda to Frankfurt was diverted to Heathrow Airport on March 2, 2012, due to fog across Continental Europe.

Also in 2012, LOT Polish Airlines used the aircraft on some training flights from Warsaw in December 2012 and January 2013, while Qatar Airways first displayed its aircraft to the UK market at a press launch in December 2012.

However, according to the data provider, it was not until the start of the summer 2013 schedules in March 2013 that the first regular long-term scheduled deployment of the type was introduced into the UK capital with Air India introducing the 787 on its flights from Delhi and Qatar Airways from Doha.

Last year also saw the arrival of the first London-based Dreamliners as British Airways at Heathrow and Thomson Airways at Gatwick introduced the type in the capital, while China Southern Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines and United Airlines added flights with the type to Heathrow.

Norwegian also used the type at Gatwick on familiarisation flights across its low-cost short-haul network ahead of its launch of long-haul flights from the London airport to the United States this year.

In 2014, Aeromexico, Air Canada and Royal Jordanian also joined the London Dreamliner network list, while recently Virgin Atlantic Airways debuted the larger 787-9 in Europe on its London Heathrow – Boston Logan route. United Airlines has also used the larger 787-9 on a single rotation to the UK capital, substituting a smaller 787-8.

In our analysis, below, we look at the growth in 787 departure capacity from London since the start of last year and current planned deployment for the forthcoming winter 2014/2015 schedule, based on published timetables.

The data shows that 787 capacity from the UK capital will more than double in 2014 from 64,735 departure seats in January to 145,140 next month, with schedules showing a rise to 183,084 seats by March 2015.

British Airways will have the largest share of this March 2015 capacity (22.7 per cent), followed by Virgin Atlantic (15.3 per cent) and Thomson Airways (11.9 per cent), with Air India the largest non-based carrier with an 8.7 per cent share.

Data provided by OAG

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Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…