Qatar Airways chief dismisses Dreamliner concerns

Wed Jan 9, 2013 8:04am EST
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DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar Airways' chief executive played down safety concerns over Boeing's new (BA.N: Quote) 787 Dreamliner aircraft on Wednesday, dismissing a series of recent incidents involving the plane as "teething problems" and saying he had no plans to cancel orders.

"Of course there will be teething problems from time to time, but this is foreseen with any new aircraft program," Akbar al-Baker told reporters at an event in Doha on Wednesday.

Qatar Airways is the largest customer of the Dreamliner in the Middle East with an order for up to 60 of the aircraft - 30 firm orders plus an option on acquiring 30 more. It currently has a fleet of five 787 jets.

"Since the first issues we had with our newly-delivered airplanes, we've had no other technical issues with the fleet of five Dreamliners we are operating now," he added.

Japan's All Nippon Airways Co (9202.T: Quote) cancelled a Dreamliner flight scheduled to fly from Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan to Tokyo on Wednesday due to brake problems.

This came just a day after a fuel leak forced a 787 operated by Japan Airlines (9201.T: Quote) to cancel its take-off at Boston's Logan International Airport. An electrical fire on another 787 forced cancellation of a JAL flight to Boston from Tokyo.

Qatar Airways' outspoken chief executive supported the U.S. planemaker and said the incidents at Logan may have been isolated.

"It could be a production issue with one of the components which caused the smoke. I'm sure if it was something serious, the FAA would have grounded airplanes. This was not the case, so it could be that this was an isolated issue."

Baker said he had no plans at the moment to cancel any plane orders with Boeing.   Continued...

Seats and screens are seen in the economy class cabin of Qatar Airways new Boeing 787 Dreamliner are seen after it arrived on it's inaugural flight to Heathrow Airport, west London December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Winning