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Dreamliner customers running out of patience

Latest update : 2008-04-10

After Boeing announced further delays in delivery of its lightweight 'Dreamliner' jet, some airline companies intend to ask for compensation from the US constructor. The 787's maiden commercial flight is likely to be over one year behind schedule.

Boeing faced a backlash by airlines Thursday after further delaying delivery of its new 787 Dreamliner, with two carriers demanding compensation from the US plane-maker and others set to follow suit.
Australia's Qantas and Air New Zealand both said they wanted compensation from Boeing for pushing back the long-awaited jet's delivery schedule for the third time, while Japan Airlines (JAL) said the situation was "deplorable."
JAL and All Nippon Airways (ANA) were also considering compensation demands, an embarrassment for Boeing as ANA is the 787's official launch customer, a role supposed to give it the cachet of being the first carrier to operate the plane.
More of the 50-plus carriers awaiting Dreamliner deliveries may also be tempted to seek recompense from Boeing as they face the prospect of delaying expansion plans and maintaining ageing fleets.
The 787 is a revolutionary aircraft that uses lightweight moulded plastic composites instead of aluminium to reduce weight, increase range and cut fuel consumption.
But its ground-breaking design has created development headaches, with Boeing blaming "unanticipated rework" and problems with suppliers for the latest delay.
ANA, Japan's second largest airline, was the first to order the Dreamliner in April 2004 but signalled its patience was wearing thin and said it was "extremely disappointed" with Boeing.
"They've been delaying the delivery again and again," ANA spokeswoman Kyoko Yaname said, revealing the airline "will demand that Boeing give us a reliable delivery schedule."
ANA has ordered 50 787s and planned to begin flying the first of them last month, in preparation for a spike in demand for the Beijing Olympics in August.
Instead, the 787's maiden commercial flight was likely to be one year and three months behind schedule, ANA said.
JAL, Asia's largest carrier, said: "It is deplorable that Boeing again decided to delay the delivery."
JAL "doesn't exclude possibility of seeking compensation for possible damages to its business," a company spokesman said.
Australian flag carrier Qantas had no hesitation in demanding Boeing pay-up, with chief executive Geoff Dixon saying the funds would be used to offset the cost of leasing replacement aircraft.
Qantas has made the 787 the cornerstone of its long-term expansion plans, lodging firm orders for 65 of the aircraft while taking options on 20 more and purchase rights on an additional 30 -- bringing its potential fleet total to 115.
Dixon said he was not surprised by the latest delay.
"We are, however, very disappointed that Boeing has again delayed the delivery schedule," he said. "That said, we did anticipate a further delay and have been working on contingencies for some time."
He said these included leasing six Airbus aircraft for Qantas' Jetstar International offshoot.
Qantas' first Dreamliners were originally scheduled to arrive in August this year but Dixon said they were now expected to be 15 months late.
Air New Zealand faces a similar delay, with the first of its eight Dreamliners now expected in early 2012, instead of late 2010.
"We are obviously very disappointed that in the current environment of high jet fuel prices, we will not be able to take advantage of the significantly improved economics that this aircraft will provide in the timeframes we initially expected," chief financial officer Rob McDonald said.
Air New Zealand said the delay would affect the airline's planned route expansion and it would enter into compensation discussion with Boeing.

Date created : 2008-04-10