All Nippon Airways 787. Courtesy, ANA

All Nippon Airlines (ANA), launch customer for the Boeing 787, operated the first scheduled Boeing 787 long-haul service Jan. 21 from Tokyo Haneda (HND) to Frankfurt (FRA). ATW joined the inaugural flight from Europe to Japan.

Following a traditional Kagami-wari (sake barrel breaking) ceremony, ANA flight NH204 pushed back from the gate with 148 passengers and one infant onboard. The inflight entertainment (IFE) system calculated the route to be 5,821 miles via Northern Europe and Siberia, well below the 787’s top nautical mile range of 8,200. After 10 hr., 56 min., the aircraft touched down at HND, 10 min. ahead of schedule.

The 787’s long-haul configuration provides 46 business-class seats and 112 economy-class seats. The inaugural flight was long enough for passengers to appreciate the aircraft’s onboard technologies, such as its 6,000 ft. cabin air pressure system and improved humidity levels, which makes a noticeable difference in comfort.

ANA, which launched its first 787 flight in October 2011 (ATW, Dec. 1, 2011), now has five 787s in operation, with one dedicated for the 3X-weekly HND–FRA service.

ANA SVP and GM-Europe, Middle East and Africa Suichi Fujimura told ATW that FRA was selected as the first 787 destination in Europe after ANA was unable to secure slots at London Heathrow.

The HND–FRA service will become daily from Feb. 1. The four additional flights, which currently use 777-200ERs, will be replaced by 787s in March.

According to the ANA Group’s FY 2012 plan, the carrier is scheduled to receive 20 787s before March 31, 2013. The carrier should receive all 55 it has on order by 2017 (ATW Daily News, Dec. 21, 2011).

By the end of this year, ANA is planning to open new international routes, including HND-San Jose, Calif. and HND-Seattle, Wash., and domestic routes from HND to Itami, Yamaguchi Ube and Matsuyama.