Dreamliner delays expected: Boeing
Bad dream: delivery delays are likely. Photo: James Morgan
BOEING has told airlines expecting to receive new 787 Dreamliners in coming months that deliveries may be delayed as regulators investigate overheating batteries that prompted the model's grounding worldwide.
UK tour operator Thomson Airways said it was arranging to use other planes to serve Florida and Mexico if its first 787 is delayed beyond March.
Norwegian Air Shuttle said the handover of an initial 787 in April may slide and that a second due in June may also be affected.
The Dreamliner fleet has been sidelined since January 16 following a lithium-ion battery fire on a Japan Airlines plane in Boston and an emergency landing by an All Nippon Airways jet in Japan.
US regulators said Boeing can conduct test flights to help determine the cause, as evidence mounts that the battery may have to be redesigned.
"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," Boeing said.
Qantas, which is due to take delivery of its first Dreamliner in August, said it had not received any advice from the manufacturer that its 787s would be delayed further.
The airline's budget offshoot, Jetstar, is due to receive the group's first Dreamliners.
Oslo-based Norwegian Air said in a statement that Boeing had not given it new handover dates or provided written confirmation of the hold-ups.
"Although a potential delay is completely out of our control, we would like to apologise in advance if the Dreamliner isn't ready for Norwegian's first long-haul flights," the chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, said in a statement.
As one of Boeing's biggest European customers, Norwegian Air said it expected the manufacturer to do "everything in its power" to get the 787 ready for delivery as soon as possible.
To allow for new services to New York and Bangkok, the airline said it would obtain alternative aircraft through a leasing company for as long as three months.
British Airways, which is due to start receiving Dreamliners from May, said discussions with Boeing were continuing. The carrier has 30 jets on order and said it was committed to the model.
Boeing said it was 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.
European safety officials are due to visit Boeing next week to review progress of the probe.