HONG KONG, October 26, 2011 (AFP) – Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner made its first commercial flight on Wednesday, giving a handful of deep-pocketed passengers the chance to fly into history on what is touted as an aviation breakthrough. With an average list price of $202 million, the plane is the firm’s first new design in more than a decade. Carrying 252 people including corporate VIPs, aviation buffs and a large press pack, the All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight flew from Tokyo’s Narita airport to Hong Kong, where it was met by lion dancing and a water-jet salute.
Wearing traditional Japanese jackets, ANA chief Shinichiro Ito and Boeing vice president Scott Fancher broke open barrels of sake with small hammers and handed the wine to passengers before they all embarked at Narita.
The lightweight, fuel-efficient 787 is the first mid-sized plane able to fly long-haul. But critics had said the project might never take off as its development ran years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.
Painted in the blue and white ANA livery with red highlights, the first Dreamliner was finally delivered by Boeing on September 28, three years after it was originally promised to the plane’s launch airline.