MIAMI — Vancouver International Airport’s self-proclaimed “Year of the Dreamliner” began yesterday morning with the arrival of Japan Airlines Flight #18 from Tokyo-Narita airport. The inaugural 787-8 touched down on YVR’s Runway 08L at 9:52 am (PT), a few minutes ahead of its scheduled 10:00 am arrival time, after an 8 hour, 45 minute flight.

The weather was clear and sunny, but it was too chilly in Vancouver for the traditional “water-cannon” greeting of a new aircraft.  Once the plane was parked at the gate, there was an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, hosted by Takayuki Kobayashi, Vice President of Canada, Japan Airlines, along with special guests from the Governments of British Columbia and Japan, the Vancouver Airport Authority, and Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Japan Airlines has been serving the Vancouver since 1968. Its new 787 service will replace the carrier’s Boeing 767-300 currently on the route. The Dreamliner will initially fly on Mondays, moving to daily service over the next month.

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Vancouver has direct flights to Tokyo on both JAL and Air Canada. But both carriers will see increased competition on the route on March 30, when All Nippon Airlines (ANA) joins the party with daily 767-300 service from Tokyo’s convenient Haneda Airport (HND). This will be ANA’s first flight to any Canadian destination. It’s interesting that JAL made their 787 announcement not long after ANA said they were going to begin flying to YVR.

ANA’s Star Alliance partner, Air Canada, will increase Canadian service to HND from Toronto (YYZ) this summer, with the inaugural daily flight of AC’s 787-8 on July 1. This flight will complement AC’s current YYZ-NRT, 777-300 flight. Air Canada also flies to Narita from Calgary, three times-per-week, using 767-300s.

The new services to Haneda Airport are thanks to a new air agreement signed last fall between Canada and Japan, allowing for direct flights between HND and Canadian destinations. This augments the current “open skies agreement” already in place between the two countries.

Japan Airlines’ inaugural 787 Flight #17 to Narita departed the gate on time, at 1:00 pm (PT). Without the benefit of the trans-Pacific eastbound flights’ usual jetstream tailwinds, the westbound YVR-NRT flight time is 10 hours, 30 minutes.