The 787 Dreamliner has entered commercial service. The mid-size airliner's first passenger-carrying outing took place earlier today when Boeing's launch customer All Nippon Airways flew 240 passengers on a four and a half hour charter flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong. Two hour-long "domestic excursion flights" out of Tokyo are planned for October 28 and 29 before regular domestic flights commence on November 1.

Journalists, special guests and representatives from ANA and Boeing joined Chief Executive and President of ANA, Shinichiro Ito aboard today's flight. Business Class seats were also sold in a charity auction with one passenger shelling out US$30,000 for a ticket.

The carbon fiber composite 787 offers passengers increased overhead luggage space, 30 percent larger auto-dimming windows, power, USB and iPod connections, touch panel LCD screens and more comfortable air pressure.

The Dreamliner also promises significant fuel savings of around 20 percent, which ANA says will eventually help it save JPY10 billion (US$130m) a year.

The 264 seat plane used for the maiden commercial flight is the first of 55 Dreamliner's that All Nippon Airways has on order. Two have been delivered so far and ANA says it expects 20 to have landed by the end of FY2012.

All Nippon Airways' first domestic flights will take place on the Haneda-Okayama and Haneda-Hiroshima routes from next week, while the first international flight between Haneda and Beijing is scheduled for December. Long-haul international flights between Haneda and Frankfurt will get underway in January 2012.