Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce says he feels very proud to have witnessed and overseen the delivery of his airline’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
“I’m very proud,” Joyce told Australian Aviation in a brief interview onboard the newly-accepted 787-9, named Great Southern Land, at the Future of Flight Aviation Center adjacent to Boeing’s Everett facility on Monday afternoon (US time).
“You think of all the work and effort from the entire Qantas team that went into this, and seeing how good it looks in reality – I’ve seen the drawings, I’ve seen the designs – but seeing it in real life is just amazing.”
It was a big day for Joyce, and a big day for Qantas, which first announced its original order for 65 787s in December 2005, but after a series of delays and deferrals is only now taking delivery of its first 787, 10 years after the first 787 development aircraft was rolled out and six years after the first customer 787 delivery, to ANA, in September 2011.
“Everything went so smoothly today, having Iva Davies with us performing that song [Great Southern Land], seeing the new name on the aircraft, that was just so emotional and I think anybody that was in that room would have felt a bit of a tear coming on because it was amazing,” Joyce said.
“We’ve only changed the logo five times, and we’ve only done it when we think there’s a game-changing aircraft coming, and this one for us was a big occasion.”
While more than 600 787s have already been delivered to airlines around the world – including Qantas’s own Jetstar low-cost carrier subsidiary, which has been operating the shorter 787-8 variant since late 2013 – how the Australian airline will operate the aircraft, pioneering nonstop flights between Australia and the UK from March next year, will differentiate it from other operators of Boeing’s composite widebody twin.
“That range is special, and the reaction around the globe that that last frontier of aviation of linking these two continents together has got huge coverage, we’re seeing coverage everywhere and that shows you it has grabbed people’s imaginations,” Joyce said.
And even bigger things are to come for Qantas, which has announced Project Sunrise to acquire either the Boeing 777-8X or Airbus A350-900ULR to operate nonstop flights from the east coast of Australia to both New York and London.
“When we announced Project Sunrise in head office we had 3,000 people there, and you could see the excitement, the buzz that that created, because it does show that Qantas is back at the top of its game,” Joyce said.
“It’s got its mojo back, I think, and this [the 787] is an example of that.”