Boeing has delayed the launch of its 787 Dreamliner until next year following an eight-week strike by machinists at its Seattle plant.

The Boeing 787 will now enter service two years later than originally planned, meaning airlines must continue operate less fuel-efficient aircraft and postpone planned changes to schedules.

The light-weight 787 marks a new stage in aircraft design, with its carbon-composite fusilage contributing to a 28% improvement in fuel efficiency over existing medium-range aircraft.

The fresh delay will be a particular blow to TUI Travel, the launch customer for the Dreamliner in the UK.

Boeing had originally aimed to launch the 787 in summer 2007 before pushing the maiden flight to the end of this year following a series of four postponements. No date has been set for the launch next year.

Boeing’s machinists returned to work last week having won an agreement to limit the outsourcing of component manufacture.