Thomson takes delivery of first Dreamliner plane


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The Independent Travel

The first UK airline to fly the ultra-green Dreamliner plane finally took delivery of its initial aircraft today.

After years of production delays and a grounding earlier this year on safety concerns, the Dreamliner touched down at Manchester Airport to be received by holiday airline Thomson.

Thomson had hoped to start flying the fuel-efficient, 290-passenger Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the beginning of this month.

But earlier this year battery smoke emanating from two Dreamliner planes operated by Japanese carriers led to a grounding of the world's 787 fleet and a halt to all deliveries.

This meant Thomson had to scrap its Dreamliner flights planned for May and June.

With the plane given the go-ahead to take to the air again, Thomson will begin Dreamliner flights on July 8.

Initially, Thomson is operating the state-of-the-art aircraft from Gatwick, Manchester, East Midlands and Glasgow airports to Orlando in Florida and to Cancun in Mexico.

Next winter, Thomson will fly the Dreamliner direct to Phuket in Thailand and from next summer it will use the plane for flights to Mauritius and to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.

Boeing had hoped that the plane would go into commercial service around 2008 but this date continually slipped as production difficulties dogged the plane.

It was not until October 2011 that Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways operated the first Boeing 787 commercial flight.

Thomson Airways managing director Chris Browne said today: "After much anticipation, we are very excited to welcome the 787 Dreamliner to our fleet and as the first airline in the UK to take delivery we hope our customers will enjoy the unique experience of this revolutionary aircraft."

Thomson is taking delivery of eight Boeing 787 Dreamliners in total, up to May 2015.

British Airways is due to receive the first four of 24 Dreamliners this year, while Virgin Atlantic will get the first of its 16 in September next year.

Meanwhile, Thomson's parent company, Tui Travel, announced a commitment today to purchase 60 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with the ability to purchase up to a further 90.

The multibillion-pound deal is subject to shareholder approval, with the delivery of the aircraft scheduled to start in January 2018 and run for five years.