Jetstar will deploy its first four Boeing 787 Dreamliners on routes to Bali and the Thai tourist destination of Phuket, as it banks on the new planes giving it an advantage over its competitors.
Qantas’ budget offshoot launched its first scheduled international flight using a Dreamliner on Wednesday when it began flying its first state-of-the-art aircraft between Melbourne and Bali.
Jetstar also announced that it will begin flying 787s between Brisbane and Bali on April 16.
The airline will launch 787 services on the Sydney-Bali run next month, and between Sydney and Phuket in February. The launch of the two latter services are subject to government and regulatory approval.
Last week Jetstar took delivery of its second 787-8 aircraft, which will undergo an ‘‘entry-into-service’’ program. The airline will eventually have a fleet of 14 Dreamliners.
Engine ice issue
But it is yet to detail when it will fly the Dreamliners it is due to receive over the coming year on key routes to Japan and Hawaii.
Its ability to operate on those routes has been complicated by jet-engine maker General Electric finding problems with icing when 787s fly near thunderstorms. Jetstar’s 787 Dreamliners are powered by GE engines.
Japan Airlines has also delayed the launch of Dreamliner flights between Sydney and Tokyo, which were due to start towards the end of this year, because of the problem with the build up of ice crystals on engines.
Jetstar will replace its entire fleet of A330 aircraft with 787-8 Dreamliners by the end of 2015. The A330s will be redeployed to Qantas’ domestic fleet, which is using them to replace its Boeing 767 aircraft.
The development of the more fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner aircraft has been one of the most fraught in Boeing’s history, costing billions of dollars due to repeated delays.
Its entry into service has also been plagued by high-profile incidents, culminating in regulatory authorities grounding the worldwide fleet for more than two months after a battery fire in January.
But Boeing and Jetstar’s parent, Qantas, have been keen to emphasise that those problems are now behind the next-generation aircraft, which was designed to replace the US manufacturer’s 767 aircraft.
It is not unusual for new plane types to suffer teething problems in their first years of service. European plane maker Airbus had to make fixes to the wings of its flagship A380 superjumbo after tiny cracks were found in its wings.
Air India began flying its 787s from Delhi to Sydney and Melbourne in August.
Jetstar will also fly 787s thrice weekly between Melbourne and Auckland for a month from February 26.