Boeing seeks ‘forgiveness’ over 787 delays

Boeing has said it hopes airline customers of its new generation 787 Dreamliner aircraft will forgive the three year delay in delivery.

Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes,said the manufacturer had been “flexible” with airlines in terms of payments for aircraft since the 9/11 attacks on New York to take account of impact on the aviation industry.

Boeing itself is awaiting details of financial penalties the company may face due to the delays in delivering the 787, and is clearly hoping its willingness to work with airlines since 2001 will be taken into account.

Albaugh was speaking at a conference hosted by the American Bar Association. “We’re seeing the same thing from the airlines,” he said of ongoing talks with customers of the 787, which was originally due to enter service in May 2008. “I’m hopeful they’ll forgive us.”

Despite the 787 delays, due to a range of technical and production issues, airlines would appreciate the aircraft’s better economics when it enters service, Albaugh said.

The first aircraft is now due to arrive at All Nippon Airways in February next year. UK customers include Thomson Airways and British Airways.

Boeing has been insourcing some production work from its 787 partners to alleviate quality-control and supply-chain issues. The outsourcing was intended to share the financial burden of the programme.

“Sometimes business decisions get in the way of real good engineering,” said Albaugh.

Boeing is increasing production of existing models and nearing a decision on when and how to replace the short haul 737, as well as a revamp of the wide body 777.

Executives have said airlines wanted an all-new narrow body plane to replace the 737 by 2020. In addition to the 787, Boeing is also developing a replacement for its 747, but that programme has also suffered delays.

Albaugh said there was a place for the new 747-8 – due to arrive with its first customer in mid-2011 – alongside the larger rival Airbus A380m ‘superjumbo’.





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