Airlines consider contingencies after 787 delivery slip

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Airlines impacted by Boeing's decision to delay initial 787 deliveries by six months are assessing contingency plans to address the slip.

About 15 carriers are expected to be affected by the airframer's shift in delivery of between 30 and 35 787s from 2008 to 2009.

Launch customer All Nippon Airways, which was originally due to receive its first 787 in May 2008, says it is considering its options, including delaying 767 retirements. Qantas also says it will consider deferring aircraft retirements if necessary deliveries to the carrier were to have begun in August 2008.

Northwest Airlines, the North American launch customer for the 787, is looking at the possibility of operating proposed Detroit-Shanghai flights with Boeing 747-400s, after conceding to local media that it may not receive the twinjet until early 2009, months after its original August 2008 delivery.

The SkyTeam alliance recently won tentative rights to introduce the new China service, and is eyeing a March 2009 debut. "We are confident we have the ability to meet our current international plan and we have the flexibility to adapt with our existing fleet," says Northwest, adding: "We're talking with Boeing and expect a new delivery schedule in the next few weeks."

Northwest's partner Continental Airlines, which is scheduled for its first 787 deliveries in 2009, says it is too early to tell what impact, if any, Boeing's announced 787 programme delay will have on the carrier.

It also remains unclear how China will tackle the delay. Deliveries had been scheduled so that Chinese operators received the aircraft ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

Boeing, meanwhile, is declining to break out the exact list of affected carriers. The manufacturer says it is "in the process of working out the effect to customers in the next several weeks what their new delivery schedule looks like, but it will take a couple of weeks to do that".