Boeing claims a six-month delay in the 787 program will have minimal impact on customers because production will continue in tandem with the flight testing program. But there will be a ripple effect nonetheless.
Aside from wondering where Boeing will park the 44 787s during the delay, as the Everett (WA) plant continues to produce seven 777 aircraft a month and one-to-two 767s and 747s each, some airlines were planning to dispose of aircraft concurrent with the delivery of the 787.
According to FlightGlobal’s ACAS data base, Boeing expected to deliver 44 787s in 2008 to 13 airlines:
Air China 2
Air India 4
All Nippon 8
China Southern 3
China Eastern 4
Japan Air Lines 2
Royal Air Maroc 2
Boeing doesn’t expect to catch up on its original delivery schedule until 2010, though it still expects to deliver 109 out of an original schedule of 112 787s by year-end 2009.
At least one 787 customer is in a pickle. It had expected to return its Boeing 767s to the lessor concurrent with the 787 deliveries. The lessor has already lined up a new lessee for a medium-term lease. Now the dilemma is what does the lessor do about its relationship with a long-standing customer—extend the leases for six months or less (depending on delivery dates of the 787 and if Boeing’s delay doesn’t get extended) or take the airplanes back, leaving the long-term client in the lurch, and put the airplanes to the new lessee?
Boeing will be asked by the airlines to aid in any financial implications of such scenarios. Given the scarcity of used airplane lift, Boeing or lessors will find it difficult to provide interim lift. In some cases, the actual delivery delay may be measured in a matter of weeks rather than months and acquiring interim lift, in an oddball configuration, won’t make sense.
The effect of the delays is still being assessed. But the rippling will be a bit more widespread that might originally have been thought.