Earlier today, Japanese national carrier Japan Airlines (JAL) announced that it would be introducing 5 weekly Boeing 787 services between Tokyo’s Narita Airport and New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) from the northern summer 2012 schedule which begins at the end of March, 2012.
The Dreamliner replaces the existing 5 weekly Boeing 777-200ER service.
Japan Airlines will also be introducing 787 services on the Narita-Moscow and Tokyo Haneda- Beijing routes in a similar timeframe, with direct flights between Tokyo Narita and Boston starting on April 22.
However, the plans could be derailed since Boeing is facing additional delays on the General Electric GEnx powered 787s.
The current Boeing 777-200ER used on the route seats 245 passengers in 3-class seating arrangement (56J/40Y+/149Y), thus the Boeing 787s, which has been reported to seat 186 passengers in a 2-class configuration, will represent a significant capacity reduction.
According to Japan Airlines’ booking engine photos, the 787’s business class will seat 42 passengers in a 2-2-2 configuration, while the economy class cabin will feature 144 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. However Bangalore Aviation has learned that the business class cabin will feature the uncomfortable Shell Flat NEO seats, not a new generation of business class seats as many had hoped. Shell style seats, which feature hard seat backs (i.e non-reclining) and seat cushions that slide out, are notoriously uncomfortable for passengers
It is interesting that JAL chose to reduce capacity to Delhi, and remove the premium economy product, while it has been reported that this same route is doing extremely well for Indian national carrier Air India. Coincidentally Delhi-Tokyo is one of the routes Air India plans to introduce its 787s on.
With the 787s representing the new standard in onboard passenger comfort, we’re not sure that JAL could afford to not place the 787 on this route. The carrier only services New Delhi, leaving the commercial capital of Mumbai to All Nippon Airways which operates a very scaled down Boeing 737 Business Jet service.
Regardless, congratulations are in order for JAL: they will be the second carrier to start 787 operations to India after Air India.