Early customers ponder impact of delay on Boeing 787

Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

Early customers for the Boeing 787 are expressing optimism that delays to the programme, acknowledged by the manufacturer yesterday, will not severely impact deliveries.

But launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) is already talking about delaying the retirement of its 767s, and the delay could spell further good news for older widebody values, which are already robust due to limited availability, if more deliveries become impacted.

Boeing announced a six-month delay in its planned initial deliveries of the 787 citing “continued challenges completing assembly of the first airplanes”. Deliveries are now slated to begin in late November or December 2008, versus an original target of May 2008. First flight is now anticipated around the end of first quarter.

The company says the financial impact of the delay will not be material to earnings and that its earnings guidance for 2007 and 2008 remained unchanged.

“We are disappointed over the schedule changes that we are announcing today” says Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney. “Notwithstanding the challenges that we are experiencing in bringing forward this game-changing product, we remain confident in the design of the 787, and in the fundamental innovation and technologies that underpin it.”

Early last month, Boeing announced a delay in the planned first flight, citing ongoing challenges with out-of-sequence production work, including parts shortages, and remaining software and systems integration activities.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Scott Carson says the company deeply regrets the impact these delays will have on customers, and that the manufacturer is “committed to working with them to minimize any disruption to their plans”.

An ANA spokesman in Tokyo says the carrier is considering its options, which could include “delaying the retirement of the 767s”. The Japanese carrier ordered 787s primarily as replacements for its 767-300/300ERs, 60 of which were in service as of the end of August, says the spokesman. The figure includes a small number of freighters.

Qantas Airways says it will consider deferring aircraft retirements if necessary. Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary Jetstar is to be one of the early operators of the 787 and its deliveries were to have begun in August 2008.

Qantas has 65 firm orders for the 787 and the first 15 are destined for Jetstar, which is to use them to replace Airbus A330s and to expand its international operations. Qantas says that while initial aircraft will be delayed, Boeing has advised it that all of its first 15 on firm order will be delivered by December 2009 as originally planned.

“Boeing said the August 2008 aircraft would slip, but not by six months. Once that aircraft arrives, the remaining 14 aircraft deliveries will be staggered until December 2009,” says Qantas, adding that the delays “will not materially impact” operations.

It says it has contingency plans for “short-term capacity shortages”, adding that “once Boeing confirms a revised delivery schedule we will assess the need for any other measures such as delaying the retirement of aircraft”.

“Compensation issues will be the subject of commercial negotiations between the Qantas and Boeing companies,” it says.