SEATTLE — Boeing and All Nippon Airways (ANA) celebrated the delivery of the airline’s 50th 787 Dreamliner during a ceremony at Boeing’s Everett Delivery Center.

The milestone comes in a moment in which Boeing has cited “softness” in the widebody jet segment, and lowered its expectations on the short-term demand for the Dreamliner.

According to ANA, whose Dreamliners accounts for 25% of its fleet, it is saving approximately $98 Million USD a year, thanks to the improvement on the fuel efficiency — 20 percent better than the 767-300 it replaced.

“The 787 Dreamliner has played a significant role in opening up new routes into new markets, while also forming the backbone of our long-haul fleet,” said Osamu Shinobe, president and CEO, ANA.

The operational efficiency of the 787 has allowed ANA to open long thin routes where there are not enough passengers to justify the use of a larger aircraft but are beyond the range of a narrowbody.

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“As the launch customer of the 787 and our largest 787 customer, we are honored to celebrate this important milestone with ANA,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “ANA is a valued Boeing customer and has been a vital partner on this program. Today’s event demonstrates the strength of our enduring relationship and we look forward to introducing the 787-10 to ANA in the coming years to complete the entire family of 787 Dreamliners in their fleet.”

Boeing and ANA: Working Together

Boeing and ANA’s intimate relationship that dates back from 1964, when the carrier took delivery of its first 727 trijet. Since then, the carrier has become a major Boeing customer, having operated almost all types except the Boeing 707, 717 and 757.

Back in 2002, ANA was consulted among other customers in Seattle about what to be Boeing’s next aircraft, dubbed the 7E7 at that time, could be like. Two years later, the Japanese carrier became the launch customer, after placing an order for 50 Dreamliners. ANA got its first delivery in September 2011 — three years and four months behind the expected entry into service.

“As the launch customer of the 787 Dreamliner family, we are proud to welcome the 50th 787 Dreamliner into our fleet, where it will continue to serve our passengers with the most innovative and memorable flying experience.” Shinobe said.

Just over a year into flying, the jetliner began to experience electrical system issues stemming from its lithium-ion batteries, which prompted the grounding of the entire Dreamliner fleet for more than three months.

However, the issue was fixed, and Boeing has delivered 447 Dreamliners to 39 operators. To date, these operators use the 787s on over 500 non-stop daily flights, and have already served 108 million passengers.

New Routes in Sight

Out of 66 international routes, ANA operates 26 of them with the Dreamliner, and it’s planning to open new routes to previously non-served destinations, with Phnom Penh, Cambodia in September, and Mexico City in February of 2017.

Already the world’s largest Dreamliner operator, ANA has an additional 33 787s on order, including the longest and newest member of the family, the 787-10. The airline will be one of only three airlines in the world, along with British Airways and United, to operate all three 787 types in its fleet.

ANA recently showcased its 50th 787 Dreamliner at the Farnborough International Airshow, performing high-performance demonstration flights for thousands in attendance and wowing millions of fans around the world on the internet.