Koito Industries, the Japanese firm that falsified test data on 150,000 aircraft seats in the world fleet, reportedly set aside only 3.6 billion yen ($44 million) for compensation last fiscal year and 3.3 billion yen in the fiscal year ending 31 March.
But with Thai Airways International now looking to sue Koito for up to $550 million for failing to deliver seats on its new Airbus A330s and A380s - and a Koito spokesman reportedly admitting that the company has received claims from a "number" of airlines - it's fair to say that Koito is going to need to set aside a lot more cash than that!
As reported here, both EASA and the FAA have issued proposed airworthiness directives to address the Koito problem (although the former agency is stricter in its AD than the latter). Many carriers are impacted by these ADs (see the list of all Koito operators here).
In the USA, it appears that Continental Airlines - now United Airlines - is the only operator affected, with some 278 aircraft in its fleet carrying Koito seats. I more than likely sat on Koito seats on my way to and from London last week via Continental's Newark hub (it was interesting to sit on a seat that could potentially be recalled...then again I drive a Toyota so the experience wasn't entirely new).
Continental, which suffered several 737 delays due to the Koito debacle, has already replaced some Koito seats and has tapped B/E Aerospace to supply seats for its new-build Boeing 737s. I've got to wonder if Continental is among the "number" of carriers now tabling claims to Koito.
Meanwhile, a rather shocking rumor is floating around that Koito hasn't entirely cleaned up all bad its practices. Again, this is just a rumor right now.
Koito, which also makes toilet seat covers, is the same firm that RUBBER STAMPED fake JCAB approvals on its test data paperwork.
When I started covering the Koito story in February, a number of interiors specialists and experts told me that the scandal was the biggest thing to hit the aircraft interiors world - ever!
While carriers all over the world are experiencing fallout from the mess (Singapore Airlines, I hear, has had a miserable time of it....can't this former Connexion by Boeing customer catch a break?), but most of them have not been as vocal as Thai, not even Eva Air, which has seen 777s parked at Everett for months!
Maybe that will change now that the legal ball is rolling. But if I was a carrier with Koito seats, I'd get my claim in fast! It appears I vastly underestimated the financial fall-out of this thing!
(Photo above from Urban Woodswalker's Flickr photo stream)