A fresh delay to the launch of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner could trigger airline compensation claims totalling £1.5 billion as carriers are forced to lease replacement aircraft or revamp planned schedules.


Boeing announced a further delay last week, putting deliveries of the 330-seat B787 at least 15 months behind schedule. The maiden flight is now not expected until the end of this year and first delivery in the second half of 2009.


TUI Travel, which will be first to fly the Dreamliner in the UK, will not take delivery until 2010 when First Choice Airways – which placed the original order and is now part of TUI – plans to develop its long-haul programme around the promise that the B787 will transform long-haul flying.


Carriers will also lose out on the efficiency savings of the B787, which should cut fuel use by more than one-fifth.


TUI Travel airline managing director Chris Browne said: “We are working to understand the impact the delays will have.”


British Airways has ordered 24 B787s and must now wait for the first until 2010. Virgin Atlantic has 15 on order, the first now due in 2011.


Boeing has declined to rule out further delays.