DIA officials lust for Dreamliner deal

It's not likely that officials at All Nippon Airways would forget that the folks at Denver International Airport dearly want to make a deal for a nonstop flight to Tokyo; DIA's been chasing that brass ring for a decade. But that didn't stop a few locals from flying to Japan recently (via a California connecting flight, no doubt) just to "remind" ANA of their keen interest.

ANA is looking at several possible new nonstop destinations in the USA -- but all of them hinge on the success of Boeing's new 787 "Dreamliner," the harbinger of what promises to be a generation of more efficient widebodies that can can travel greater distances before refueling. In my February feature "DIA Dreams," aviation director Kim Day declares that the 787 is "the future" of Denver's airport: "That plane opens up the world for us."

It just might -- some day. But there's still a lot of testing to go before the plane that everybody's lusting for logs its first commercial mile.

Although Boeing has orders for 876 Dreamliners from dozens of customers at a total cost of $150 billion (around $175 million each), the company has announced only two planes that have actually had maiden flights and are now undergoing extensive testing. ANA could take delivery on its first Dreamliner later this year, but the earliest the plane could be used for regular passenger service is 2013.

Boeing has posted some video of the Dreamliners undergoing flutter and ground tests here. So the local officials who expect the plane to bring world travelers to Denver's door have something to look at, and dream about, while waiting for the real thing to arrive.

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