Boeing declared that Dreamliner manufacturing and deliveries wouldn’t be impacted by the initial grounding, but the aircraft’s problems appear to run much deeper than anticipated.
“We have informed our customers expecting 787 deliveries in the near-term that those aircraft either have been or are at risk of being delayed,” the company said in e-mailed comments. “Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the schedules of our customers and their passengers.”
U.K. tour operator Thomson Airways said it’s arranging to use other planes to serve Florida and Mexico should its first 787 be delayed beyond March, while Norwegian Air Shuttle AS said it has been told the handover of an initial 787 in April may slide and that a second due in June may also be affected.
The 787 fleet has been grounded since Jan. 16 following a battery fire on a Japan Airlines Co. plane in Boston and a cockpit warning that spurred an emergency landing in Japan by an All Nippon Airways Co. jet. European safety officials are due to visit Boeing next week to review progress of a safety probe which U.S. regulators say could take weeks to complete.
Boeing said today it’s staying in close communication with its customers as it works to develop a plan to resume the 787 pipeline, adding that it doesn’t discuss specific deliveries.
Oslo-based Norwegian Air said in a statement that Boeing has not given it new handover dates and neither has it provided written confirmation of the holdups.
“Although a potential delay is completely out of our control we would like to apologize in advance if the Dreamliner isn’t ready for Norwegian’s first long-haul flights,” Chief Executive Officer Bjorn Kjos said in the release.
As one of Boeing’s biggest European customers, Norwegian said it expects the manufacturer to do “everything in its power” to get the 787 ready for delivery as soon as possible. In order to allow for new services to New York and Bangkok, the carrier said it will enter into an agreement with a leasing company to source alternative aircraft for as long as three months.
No provider has been selected, though the carrier’s first two 787s are owned by International Lease Finance Corp.
Thomson, a unit of Tui Travel Plc, aslo said that Boeing has provided no new delivery dates.
London-based British Airways, which is due to start receiving Dreamliners from May, said in an e-mail that discussions with Boeing continue. The carrier has 30 jets on order and said it’s committed to the model.
Editors: Chris Jasper and Andrew Noel.
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