Expect Dreamliner delays, Boeing tells airlines

Fri Feb 8, 2013 2:52pm EST
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By Brenda Goh and Bill Rigby

LONDON/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Boeing Co told two European airlines their deliveries of 787 Dreamliner jets would be delayed, underlining the uncertainty surrounding the future of the plane and the mounting costs related to its grounding.

The new lightweight, carbon-composite aircraft were grounded worldwide on January 16 after a series of battery incidents, including a fire on-board a parked 787 in Boston and an in-flight problem on a plane in Japan.

Since then, conditions have grown crowded at Paine Field, the airport next to Boeing's Everett, Washington widebody plant where planes being prepared for delivery are parked.

Some 10 apparently finished and painted 787s flanked the runway on Thursday, compared with six on January 17.

Thomson Airways, owned by Britain's TUI Travel, told Reuters that delivery of its first Dreamliner, originally scheduled for the end of February, had been "moved out of the month" and it had not been given a new delivery date. There are two Thomson planes among the 10 idling at Paine Field.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, meanwhile, said it had been notified by Boeing that its delivery schedule was at risk because of an investigation by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board into the aircraft. The extent of the possible delay was not yet known.

Thomson launched an advertising campaign in Britain in April last year for its new fleet of Dreamliners, which it said represented the "future of long-haul travel." It planned to start using the planes in May.

"Boeing is doing everything it can to resolve the situation. We appreciate that there are many customers who are looking forward to flying on the Dreamliner, but unfortunately these circumstances are out of our control," Thomson said.   Continued...