Last week, American Airlines became the second US carrier to take delivery of the next-generation Boeing 787 aircraft. The aircraft principally uses composite material in its construct, making it lighter weight and less expensive to fly than earlier-generation widebodies. So far, United Airlines has been the only other US carrier to receive a 787.
Forget that 29 airlines have already taken 228 Dreamliners and that United, the first U.S. carrier to take delivery, now flies 14 of them including two stretched 787-9s and has already used the aircraft to open new innovative routes including San Francisco-Chengdu and Houston-Lagos. This is still a big moment for American.
American’s new 787 is the first of 16 base 787-8 variants that the airline has ordered from Boeing. The airline also has an order for 26 787-9 variants, which are slightly longer than the 787-8. United also currently has only 787-8s.
The aircraft, with a tail number of N800AN, left Boeing’s delivery facility on the afternoon of January 23rd and touched down in Dallas, home to American’s headquarters at just after 7PM Central time. So far, no other flights have been scheduled with that aircraft.
On the ground, American plans to put the final touches on the aircraft’s interior and use it for flight training. The airline has revealed loose plans to fly it domestically for the first several weeks of its commercial operation as its crew and customers get acclimated. After its inaugural tour, the aircraft is scheduled for use on international routes, though American is keeping mum about the precise schedule. Some speculate that Miami – Tokyo may be under consideration.
American Airlines’ New Boeing 787
American’s 787 launch has been watched closely by airline enthusiasts and analysts alike as the airline continues to refresh its fleet. Among the updates currently in progress are widespread, lie flat seats in international business class cabins and a raft of new aircraft orders including the 787.
For many, the updates can’t come soon enough. American has been lagging behind its competitors Delta and United in their premium international product for several years, losing lucrative business class travelers in the process. Between the aircraft and cabin upgrades, many are hoping that American will soon command a better market share of premium travelers and bring stronger returns for investors. Once the 787 goes into service, that tide may start to turn.