Today around noon, Governor Christine Gregoire picked up a giant mallet and pounded open a barrel of hooch. It wasn't her usual lunchtime ritual—it was the ceremonial opening of a Japanese sake cask to mark the first Seattle-to-Tokyo flight by All Nippon Airways.
It was a Boeing 777 aircraft that pulled into Sea-Tac's South Satellite this morning, but ANA plans to bring the 787 Dreamliner to the route in October, making it the first Seattle commercial appearance for the composite plane (it's already flying out of Boston).
ANA was the launch customer for the 787—making the big first order—and the airline will eventually purchase 55 total planes. They got the first one last September, then flew another using biofuel across the Pacific Ocean in April. They currently fly 11 Dreamliners in their fleet.
The governor attended the first-flight party at Sea-Tac today because she's been championing the daily flight since 2005. Besides encouraging tourism from Japan, the increased accessibility between the cities should foster business, she said in a statement. A water turret salute and a taiko drum performance were also part of the festivities.
Service to Seattle from Tokyo's Narita airport already exists on United and Delta, so the introduction of the route focused on ANA's special Boeing planes—even though they're not here yet.