Wednesday, 21 December 2011

ANA expands: Seattle, San Jose join 'Dreamliner club'

Seattle and San Jose will be the next cities to join the growing global route map of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. They'll also likely become the first U.S. cities to land regular passenger service on the new-age jet.

Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) – the first carrier in the world to put the Dreamliner into passenger service –says it will use the new aircraft for an expansion into the United States.

ANA will begin service to both Seattle and San Jose on April 1, with plans for 787 service to Tokyo Narita from each. That start date appears to all but assure that those cities will be the first in the U.S. to land regular service on the 787.

Japan Airlines will use the 787 to fly from Tokyo to Boston, but that service won't begin until April 22.United says it expected to begin 787 service in "early 2012," but it seems unlikely to be in a position to put the Dreamliner into scheduled service prior to April.

As for ANA's new routes, the company touted its expansion along the U.S. West Coast.

"Seattle is an important international business hub and home to companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and, of course, Boeing itself while San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley," ANA CEO Shinichiro Ito says in a release. "Passenger demand to fly to both destinations is high, not only from Japan but from many Asian cities. The launch of these new services will make ANA the only Japanese airline to operate the two routes, as well as the only carrier to operate the Narita-San Jose route."

ANA will go head-to-head with both United and Delta on the Seattle-Tokyo route, though ANA and United will likely coordinate their service since they have limited antitrust immunity as joint-venture partners.

The addition of San Jose and Seattle will grow ANA's number of U.S. gateways to eight. It currently offers service to six U.S. airports: Chicago O'Hare, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York JFK, San Francisco and Washington Dulles.

The San Jose service is notable for several reasons. For San Jose, it restores a link to Tokyo that the airport lost when American discontinued its San Jose-Tokyo route in 2006. It also returns overseas service to the Bay Area airport, which has struggled with declining flight numbers in recent years.

It also gives ANA a second route in the Bay Area. The Mineta San Jose International Airport is just about 35 miles from San Francisco International, where ANA also offers nonstop service to Tokyo. However, San Francisco is a key hub for ANA's joint-venture and Star Alliance partner United.

"There is strong demand for flights to San Francisco now, so we are expecting solid demand for our Seattle and San Jose flights, too," Ito is quoted as saying by Bloomberg News.

Source: USA Today

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