I was fortunate to be invited by Boeing and Qantas – along with a very small number of other television, radio and print journalists – to be part of Media Team 787, a media only flight from Sydney to Brisbane and return onboard N787BX (ZA003). Configured with 135 seats, less than 30 guests were permitted to be carried by authorities by virtue of the aircraft’s ‘experimental’ status. The aircraft was in Sydney on the first stop of its final leg of the global Dreamtour. The clear emphasis and focus of the tour is well and truly aimed squarely at what the aircraft offers in terms of the passenger experience.
What follows in three posts detailing the experience on board the aircraft in both the cabin and cockpit. I’ll be writing some glossy articles for print and traditional media so – assuming you’re keen to follow – keep tabs on our primary Twitter feed at @flightorg.
Jetstar will be Australia’s first 787 client (and, arguably, the world’s first ‘low fare’ customer). At an early press event before departure, Alan Joyce and David Hall shied away from committing to a delivery date stating only ‘mid to late 2013′. Kath Stone, the Jetstar Delivery into Service Manager, later confirmed to Flight that a previously deleted Facebook post was in fact accurate: we can expect Jetstar to receive three 787′s between August and December, 2013.
Jetstar NZ NEO, David Hall, told reporters at the pre-departure press event that the 787 will initially replace existing A330 routes and services (with those aircraft relegated to the Qantas domestic fleet) with the most likely launch destinations to be Bali, Japan and Honolulu – effectively putting an end to rumors of the highly anticipated Singapore and Auckland launch services.
Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, told Flight that delivery options beyond 2012 will open up additional network opportunities … with Jetstar in need of “more immediate international solutions followed by [787-9] domestic opportunities for Qantas ‘sometime in 2014/15′”.
Joyce said that types such as the 787 and A380 are partly responsible for ongoing cutbacks and job layoffs, particularly in the heavy maintenance division. He said that aircraft that were more reliable and required less maintenance simply meant fewer jobs.
It’s been a tough week at the end of a turbulent twelve months for Qantas. On the 18th, Qantas were accused of inflating credit card fees by consumer watchdog Choice. On Monday, over 500 heavy maintenance jobs were cut and then, on the 22nd, Joyce announced a split of the domestic and international operation (after appealing the decision to allow Virgin Australia to do the same only a few months prior). The 787′s appearance in Sydney and its entry into service next year will go a long way to restoring consumer faith in the embattled brand.
Will I fly in the aircraft? I won’t answer that question on the basis that my employer regularly scrutinizes my external media pursuits.
Boeing 787 Review: The Passenger Experience
Boeing 787. A Pilot’s Perspective
Listen to audio from the early morning press event below. Audio static was from the Qantas feed. We’ve had to add a small ‘beep watermark’ due to an increase in audio theft. Flight is the only place you’ll be able to listen to the full, uninterrupted conference.
- Alan Joyce audio from the Qantas Press Conference (grounding the airline): 29th October 2011
- FULL AUDIO of the Qantas Press Conference: 31st October 2011
- Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO, on Inside Business
- Boeing 787 Review: The Passenger Experience
- Jetstar Inaugural Service into Fiji
- Qantas Grounds its Domestic and International Operations
- [Video] Jetstar Employee assaults passenger