A year after Boeing finally began 787 deliveries to launch operator All Nippon Airways, Latin America's first customer, LAN Airlines, began earning money with the carbonfibre twinjet. LAN put the Dreamliner into service on 1 October and the region's 787 operator base is set to expand in the next few years as Aeromexico and AviancaTaca also take deliveries.
After lengthy delays, the Dreamliner programme is building momentum. Eight customers have taken their first deliveries, and the type is now flying with airlines based in the Americas, Africa and Asia. With 800 787s on order and production rates increasing, the global fleet is set to rise rapidly.
The excitement the new carbonfibre design is generating among customers was illustrated by LAN Airlines boss Ignacio Cueto when he accepted his first 787 in August and said: "This is a landmark moment not just for LAN, but for all our passengers in Latin America and other countries the 787 will serve. Its special features will allow us to further improve our passengers' travel experience."
LAN 787's inaugural flight on 1 October was a round trip between Santiago and Buenos Aires, with a full load of 176 passengers on board. The Oneworld carrier has 22 787-8s and four -9s on order. Three 787-8s are due to be in service by the end of 2012, with two arriving in 2013 and seven in 2014. The carrier's first 787-9 will arrive in early 2015, says Cueto.
LAN is operating 22 weekly 787 services on the Santiago-Buenos Aires route, and will gradually extend the new aircraft's network to include Los Angeles, Lima, Madrid and Frankfurt during the first year of operations. Santiago-Lima will be the second route, followed by Santiago-Lima-Los Angeles.
Aeromexico has to wait a little longer, with its first 787 due to arrive in the third quarter of 2013. The Dreamliner will first be used on services to London, Paris and New York JFK. The SkyTeam carrier, which has nine 787-8s and up to 10 787-9s on order, expects to receive three 787-8s next year.
AviancaTaca's first of 12 787s on firm order is scheduled to arrive in April 2014. Four more are due before the end of that year, with three to follow in 2015 and 2016, and two in 2017.