Troubled Dreamliners cleared for take-off to Sydney
Japan Airlines will begin flying its troubled Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Sydney in December, as it vies with Jetstar for bragging rights to be the first to fly the planes to Australia's gateway.
As part of a rejig of its global network, Japan Airlines has announced that it will fly Dreamliners between Sydney and Tokyo's Narita Airport from December 1. They will replace its Boeing 777-200 aircraft on the daily run to Sydney - the airline's sole route to Australia.
The switch to a smaller plane - the 787 has about 82 fewer seats - will reduce Japan Airline's capacity on the route, which will in turn ease the pressure on Qantas.
Japan Airlines plans to begin returning its fleet of Dreamliners to service from the start of June after "confirming the safety and reliability of the aircraft". Last month US regulators cleared the way for Dreamliners to be returned to service after approving a fix for the problem batteries on the state-of-the-art planes.
Before the grounding of the 787s in January, Jetstar had been due to take delivery of the first of its 14 Dreamliners in August. The airline has since said there could be a couple of months' delay.
Jetstar will not release a definitive route schedule for its Dreamliners until shortly before it takes delivery of the first new planes. They will gradually replace its A330s, which fly from cities including Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast to Hawaii, Japan and Singapore. The airline will have to gain approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to have the new places added to its air operator's certificate - a licence to operate commercial services.
Foreign airlines which intend to operate the planes on routes to Australia do not need further approval from this country's air-safety regulator as US authorities have certified the Dreamliner as safe to fly.
Qatar Airways is likely to be the first airline to operate Dreamliners to Australia with flights between Doha and Perth. It has not given a specific date for the flights. In January, the worldwide fleet of 787s were grounded after a battery fire in a Japan Airlines 787 in Boston.