MIAMI — Air New Zealand (ANZ) will launch its first scheduled Boeing 787-9 service on August 9th. It will be the second carrier in the world to introduce the jet to commercial service.
According to ANZ’s website, the first flight will take place between the company’s Auckland headquarters and Sydney, Australia, operating NZ103 and 104, respectively. The carrier plans to begin long-haul service via its Auckland-Perth route on October 15th, though it has speculated that it may opt to move the date forward.
Whether and to what extent the jet will remain in commercial service in-between August and October is not entirely clear. If current schedules are any guide, the airliner’s debut may be short-lived: post August 9th schedules do not show the jet scheduled for any other future flights. But fear-not, the airline told Australian Business Traveller last week that the jet would be swapped onto the route on a “surprise and delight basis”. Such a tactic has been utilized by a few new Dreamliner carriers already, including British Airways, to ease crew-members into the jet.
Despite ANZ’s launch-customer status, Japanese carrier ANA will have the honor of being the first to operate the elongated Dreamliner. Its introduction will come in only a few days’ time, on the 7th. The airplane will serve a handful of domestic destinations before switching to international long-haul sometime in 2015 (ANA declined to narrow the window).
ANA’s move has caused speculation that the two are locked in a battle to deploy the jet first. No doubt the decision burned ANZ, which has been trumpeting its first to operate status for some time, and thus the waters have been a bit testy as of late. After ANA’s post-delivery announcement that it would be first to fly the airplane (via an invitation-only charter flight on the 4th), ANZ was quick to point out that it wasn’t a revenue flight and thus didn’t count. ANA since moved up its first revenue flight to the 7th, leapfrogging ANZ by two days. ANA insists the decision was merely operational, chalking it up to needing less preparation time to place the airplane into service.
ANZ has not yet responded to a request for comment.