All Nippon finally receives Boeing 787 order

Boeing’s 787 landed in Japan early July 3 to start a weeklong dress rehearsal with All Nippon Airways Co., signaling the end is near on a delay of more than three years for the world’s first composite-plastic jet.

The Dreamliner, which landed at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, will make test flights on ANA’s normal domestic routes, with pilots and mechanics from both companies working alongside each other. The exercise will ensure the plane can fit into airport parking slots and use boarding bridges and fuel hoses, said Megumi Tezuka, an airline spokeswoman.

“It’s been a long wait,” said Hidetaka Sakai, an ANA spokesman who watched today’s landing. “We want to compete with global air companies with this plane.”

The trip is one of the final validations ahead of the 787’s entry into service as soon as next month. Boeing missed the original May 2008 delivery target, stalling its ability to book profit from a model with an average list price of $202 million and forcing customers to reshuffle their plans.

“People are going to be happy to see the plane arrive in Japan,” saidRyota Himeno, an analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. in Tokyo. “The key will be when demand for air travel rebounds.”

ANA, Asia’s largest listed airline by sales, suffered a 20 percent drop in domestic travel in April, the month after a record earthquake and tsunami disrupted air service in the country and led to the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

The Tokyo-based carrier is counting on the twin-engine Dreamliner to help add flights to China, Europe and the U.S. while paring fuel costs. Japan Airlines Co., which has 35 of the 787s on order, has said it will start service to Boston from Tokyo with the jet next year, the first direct link between the city and Asia.

For Boeing, getting the Dreamliner into service this quarter would end a series of seven postponements that led to late penalties and analysts dubbing the company’s fastest- selling plane the “7-Late-7.” Boeing’s 27 percent slide from the initial, October 2007 delay through June 30 was almost twice the drop for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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