LAN may acquire more 767s as 787s are delayed

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LAN is looking at acquiring additional widebody passenger aircraft this year to offset the latest delay in Boeing 787 deliveries.

Prior to the new 787 programme delay announced by Boeing earlier this month, LAN was expecting to receive its first two 787s in September of 2011. LAN now anticipates these two deliveries will be delayed until 2012 although it has not yet formally received a new delivery schedule from Boeing.

"There have been additional delays in this plane but we have not yet confirmed a new delivery schedule," LAN CFO Alejandro de la Fuente explained to analysts during a 26 January conference call.

"Nevertheless we are evaluating alternatives to bridge this gap caused by this delay of the aircraft and compensate the impact it will have on our long-haul growth plans."

LAN executives told analysts one option being looked at is acquiring additional 767s although they say other undisclosed aircraft types are also currently being evaluated.

LAN in 2007 placed orders for 26 787s and committed to leasing six additional 787s from ILFC. The first of these 32 787s were originally scheduled to be delivered from 2011. LAN last year announced a three-year acceleration in 10 of its 787 deliveries, offsetting earlier delays which had pushed back delivery of its first aircraft from 2011 to 2014.

As part of the acceleration LAN took over a couple of very early delivery positions that are only a few months behind the first production aircraft. Boeing now expects to deliver the first production 787 to launch customer All Nippon Airways in the third quarter of this year.

In a new fleet plan published with its fourth quarter 2010 results, LAN now estimates it will take its first seven 787s in 2012 and five more 787s in 2013.

LAN's widebody passenger aircraft fleet currently consists of 28 767s and five Airbus A340s. It is already committed to adding three 767s this year and three more 767s next year, giving it a 767 passenger fleet of 34 aircraft by the end of 2012.

LAN executives told analysts they do not expect to receive any compensation from Boeing as a result of the delays in the 787 programme. They explain the carrier is only entitled to compensation if they cancel its 787 order but LAN has no intention of cancelling.