UK scheduled and charter carrier Monarch Airlines now believes it could be 2014 before it receives its first Boeing 787-8s, more than three years after it was due to receive the first of the twin-aisle aircraft.

In May 2008, the airline revealed that the first 787, due for delivery in late 2010, had been re-scheduled to arrive in spring 2013 "at best".

The current delivery schedule is still unknown, said a Monarch spokeswoman. "We have no dates [from Boeing] as yet. Our best guess is 2014."

The Luton-based carrier wants the aircraft to replace its four Airbus A300-600s. It has six Boeing 787-8s on order, although it cancelled options on a further four some time ago. In 2008 the A300-600s were described by then managing director Tim Jeans as "not as reliable as we would like". They will now soldier on until the 787s arrive, said the spokeswoman.

The airline had earlier talked of acquiring four to six used Boeing 767s or Airbus A330s to bolster the fleet in the short term, but "no decision [on aircraft] has been taken; it's very much a work in progress", said the spokeswoman. Choice of a type would "very much depend on the growth of the network".

Monarch, for many years synonymous with the UK charter market, is steadily moving into the scheduled business. Some 70% of its flights this summer will be scheduled, rising to 80% in a year's time, although it anticipates retaining a charter element in its business for the foreseeable future.

In the scheduled market it will compete with low-cost carriers, although its aim is to differentiate itself by allowing passengers to 'build their own class' by offering a menu of paid, add-on options such as hot meals and allocated seats.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news