Kenya Airways threatens to ditch 787 for Airbus

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Kenya Airways' irritation over delays to the Boeing 787 programme has evolved into a threat to cancel the aircraft it has on order.

The flag carrier had already said, during its review of the last financial year, which ended in March, that the hold-up to the 787 was a "major challenge" for the airline.

Kenya Airways ordered six 787-8s in March 2006 and, nine months later, followed this with an order for another three.

The first of the aircraft had originally been scheduled to arrive this year. At the time that Kenya placed its initial order, the Dreamliner was due to enter service with launch customer All Nippon Airways in mid-2008, but this has slipped by almost three years. Following the latest delay announced in August it is not now due until early 2011. The result is that most 787 customers have suffered delays of at least two years to their first delivery.

kenya airways 787, boeing
 © Boeing

Kenya Airways says it is considering cancelling its 787 order and is "looking into negotiations with Airbus".

In its end-of-year review Kenya Airways had already disclosed that it was considering the Airbus A330 as a back-up option, alongside the extension of its Boeing 767 leases or the acquisition of newer 767s.

The airline says its threat to drop the 787 is "serious" and that the carrier intends to make a decision by the end of the year.

Boeing has suffered a series of 787 order cancellations over the past 18 months, although no customer is believed to have specifically blamed their move on the programme delays.

Air China has converted its order for 15 787-8s to the 787-9 stretch variant, and expects to take delivery of the new aircraft from the end of 2015. The 787-9 will be a better fit for the airline in terms of seat capacity, performance and economy, says China's flag carrier. Air China placed its 787 order in 2005 and had originally expected deliveries to start in mid-2008.