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Dreamliner Starts Flights From Domodedovo

There are only 11 super-modern Boeing Dreamliners being operated and some of them are serving Domodedovo. Vladimir Filonov

Correction appended

Russians headed to Japan are now able to enjoy the novelty of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner.

JAL Japan Airlines formally introduced the aircraft on its Tokyo to Moscow route at a ceremony at Domodedovo Airport on Thursday.

"This is a historic day for Domodedovo," airport director Igor Borisov told reporters. "With this most modern aircraft I am sure more passengers will chose Domodedovo and JAL."

Domodedovo has seen its long-held position as Moscow's busiest and most modern airport eroded in the past two years by revamps at Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo.

The much-delayed Dreamliner, which includes components developed and manufactured in Russia, makes extensive use of plastic composite materials and aerodynamics to lower fuel consumption, noise and air pollution.

Boeing claims that the plane is 60 percent quieter and releases 20 percent fewer emissions than comparable aircraft in its class — which the company hopes will boost sales in jurisdictions like Europe with increasingly stringent environmental standards.

Its fuel efficiency means that the 230- to 250-seater aircraft can fly further than any other twin-engine airliner in its class — one recently made a 42-hour return flight from Seattle to Dhaka, Bangladesh — and Boeing says that will open up new long-range routes to smaller airports unequipped to handle large-bodied aircraft like the 747.

"It opens up a whole new era in aviation," Boeing Russia spokesman Dmitry Krol told The Moscow Times. "You could fly twice daily between Yekaterinburg and New York, and you wouldn't have to sell the 450 seats you'd need to break even on a large twin-aisle aircraft."

Those days are still far off, however. There are currently just 11 Dreamliners in service, all in Japan: seven with All Nipon Airways and four with JAL.

While Boeing has received 26 orders for Dreamliners from Russian airlines — 22 from Aeroflot and four from Transaero — it is unclear when they will be delivered. Boeing declines to comment on delivery times to specific customers, but says about half the 75 to 82 new-model planes it plans to build this year will be Dreamliners.

The launch of the 787 flights came a day after FSB and Investigative Committee agents raided three of Domodedovo's divisions.

Investigators spent several hours searching through office documents at the airport Wednesday and confiscated computers, hard disks and flash drives, Kommersant reported.

A Domodedovo spokeswoman confirmed to The Moscow Times that "as far as we understand" the raid was connected to a case opened against the airport in April, accusing employees of using falsified statistics about fuel deliveries to sue Vnukovo Airport.

"It's too early to say much else. We hope they are objective in their investigation," she said.

The airport was last investigated for alleged failure to ensure security at the airport following the suicide bombing in January 2011 that killed 35 people.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Boeing planned to build up to 82 planes this year; in fact, that is only the number of planes of new model types the company plans to construct. The company produces a total of about 500 planes a year.

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