Air New Zealand is now toeing Boeing’s line about the 787-9 delivery schedule after being put in the docket by the airframer for issuing harsh words about the embattled aircraft programme.
To recap, last week in Sydney Air NZ chief financial officer Rob McDonald said his carrier expected to deploy the 787-9, for which it is the launch customer, in 2014, some 2-3 years later than promised. “It would be an understatement to say we are frustrated and disappointed,” McDonald said.
Boeing had last advised ANZ, the launch customer of the stretched 787, that it would receive its first of eight aircraft in late 2013 or early 2014. An Air NZ spokesman said that date slipped to an undetermined period in 2014 that it is still in discussions with Boeing about. The year 2014 “is as specific as it gets”, the spokesman said.
McDonald said Air NZ was “in discussion” about delivery dates and compensation. He remarked: “We always seem to be having discussions.”
Earlier this week news trickled out of Boeing refuting Air NZ’s remarks. Boeing’s remarks reached a climax during the company’s quarterly earnings call, although according to the call’s transcript Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney was from confident about the matter:
I don’t know where this 787-9 rumor. I guess there was — I guess in New Zealand there was a — just like in maybe the same press that you’re looking at, there was a comment that there was a worry that the 787-9 was pushed into 2014. I’m not sure where that came from. But our ramp plans on the 787-9 are in place, it’s going well….So the 787-9, just to refresh, the 787-9, our guidance is end of ’13, okay? That’s a delivery. Air New Zealand is one of the very first customers to get the 787-9. And it takes a while to induct these things in the service, so I don’t know if whether there’s a disconnect between when we deliver it and the time he [McDonald] takes to get in into the fleet or not. I don’t know what he meant by that. But we have not changed our schedule.
Today an Air NZ spokesman dispelled Boeing’s suggestion of a “disconnect” between delivery and entry into service dates, saying “Entry into service is normally a few days after delivery.”
As for a delivery date, the same spokesman who said 2014 was “as specific as it gets” had a curiously similar message to Boeing’s. “We’ve always been expecting delivery in late 2013 or early 2014. It hasn’t changed.”
But then he adds, “Our expectations are early 2014 for delivery.”
So there you go. Air New Zealand will gladly reiterate Boeing’s statement about receiving its first 787-9 in 2013 or 2014. But Air NZ does not believe it.