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British Airways received its first SC-made 787-10 jet, months later than planned

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British Airways 787-10

British Airways received delivery of its first 787-10 aircraft. The jet, like all "Dash 10" models, was built at the company's Dreamliner plant in North Charleston. Provided/Boeing Co.

British Airways has taken delivery from Boeing of its first South Carolina-made 787-10, about six months later than originally planned. 

The new Dreamliner aircraft took off from Charleston late Saturday night and arrived shortly before noon local time at London's Heathrow Airport, according to the flight tracking site FlightRadar24

Officials from the British carrier had planned to come to North Charleston to receive their first "Dash 10" months earlier, in January. The aircraft was going to be put into service the next month, on a route from London to Atlanta. 

But January came and went, and the aircraft, which is the first of a dozen 787-10s British Airways has on order, remained in North Charleston. Then in late May, plane watchers again reported that delivery of the aircraft was imminent. 

But the month passed, and the jet stayed put. Boeing delivered just four airplanes in May, none of which was a passenger jet. The company also logged nine new orders and twice as many cancellations in the month. 

British Airways' new 787-10 was registered in the United Kingdom on Friday, ahead of its weekend delivery, according to records from the Civil Aviation Authority

While Boeing's North Charleston plant is expected to send more Dreamliners to London this year — at least one other Great Britain-bound 787-10 is already ready for delivery, according to a spreadsheet from the blog All Things 787 — British Airways' jets aren't likely to be flying from Heathrow to Charleston International anytime soon. 

The carrier was supposed to run a second season of its new Charleston-London route from March to October, but the flight's return was put off because of COVID-19. Airport officials later announced that British Airways would not be returning to the Holy City this calendar year

During its inaugural run last year, British Airways flew a 787-8 Dreamliner twice weekly from Heathrow to Charleston International. 

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From deliveries to orders to production, Boeing's business has taken a huge blow this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Concerns about the spread of the virus combined with a sharp drop in demand for new jets prompted Boeing to temporarily halt production at its factories on both the East and West coasts. 

Boeing's North Charleston production line was shut down for about three and a half weeks. Workers started to return May 3. 

Shortly before the campus reopened, Boeing announced in an earnings call that it would be cutting Dreamliner production from 14 per month to seven by 2022 and would reduce its workforce by 10 percent. 

During the last week of May, about 6,770 Boeing workers in the U.S., including an undisclosed number of Boeing South Carolina employees, learned they had lost their jobs. 

While the company said those job losses constituted the largest wave of job cuts, several thousand additional layoffs were still to come. 

A 15 percent workforce cut, which is what Boeing CEO David Calhoun said the commercial airplanes and services divisions of the company could expect, would total about 1,000 of the nearly 7,000 jobs Boeing's South Carolina operation had at the beginning of the year. 

The 787-10 is the longest of the three models of the Dreamliner, and it's built exclusively at Boeing's North Charleston plant. Final assembly of the 787-8 and 787-9 is split with the company's factory in Everett, Wash. 

With the arrival of its Dash 10s, British Airways will become the first European carrier and third carrier overall to fly all three versions of the Dreamliner. United Airlines and All Nippon Airways already do. 

The 787-10s will be joining a fleet with a dozen 787-8s and 18 787-9s. 

Reach Emily Williams at 843-607-0894. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and aerospace. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.

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