Delivery from Boeing’s factory in Seattle to Thomson Airways was three months late after airline maker grounded its entire fleet over safety concerns
It was three months late, but Britain’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner touched down on Friday at Manchester Airport.
The delivery from Boeing’s factory in Seattle to Thomson Airways, planned for February, was delayed after the US aerospace company grounded its fleet of 787s and suspended deliveries in January. There had been a battery fire on a parked 787 at Boston’s Logan International Airport and another incident in which battery smoke forced an emergency landing by another of the airliners in Japan.
Thomson’s parent company, TUI Travel, said it also planned to buy 60 Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft, secured at a “significant discount” to the list price “through various concessions”.
At current list prices, the cost for 60 of the narrow-bodied aircraft would be £4bn. TUI has the option to buy up to a further 90 of the Boeing 737s, which would be used for short and medium-haul flights.
Delivery of the first 60, which is subject to shareholder approval, is scheduled to start in January 2018 and run until March 2023.
Thomson will receive a further three Dreamliners this summer, and will fly the aircraft from Manchester, London Gatwick, East Midlands and Glasgow airports to long-haul destinations in Florida and Mexico from 8 July. The airline had originally planned to start flights in May.
TUI airlines has 12 Dreamliners remaining on order, while British Airways and Virgin have also ordered the aircraft.
Boeing claims the 787 is the most technologically advanced and fuel efficient jetliner ever built, using 20% less fuel compared with similar-sized aircraft. It also has bigger windows, larger overhead luggage bins, lower cabin altitude, and enhanced ventilation systems.
Chris Browne, managing director of Thomson Airways, said the Dreamliner marked a “major milestone” in modernising the holiday experience. The Thomson Airways Dreamliner will carry 291 passengers for the Thomson and First Choice brands.
Boeing said separately that it was establishing new centres for engineering design, propulsion and out-of-production plane support for commercial planes in the US.
Engineering design centres will be opened in Washington state, South Carolina and Southern California.
Boeing is forecasting strong growth in commercial aviation over the next 20 years, and a market for 34,000 new planes estimated at $4.5tn (£3tn).