New Delhi: US plane maker Boeing Co.’s worker union strike last month is expected to further delay deliveries of 787 Dreamliner jets to National Aviation Co. of India Ltd-run Air India from late 2009 to 2010, which could affect its planned route launches.
This would be the fourth time the aircraft’s delivery schedule to Air India may have to be reshuffled. The first delivery of the aircraft was expected in 2008, which was pushed back to early this year and then to October.
The ‘Wall Street Journal’ reported on Thursday that Boeing might push back the first deliveries of the Dreamliner by at least six more months.
This would mean that Air India, which has ordered for 27 of these jets, may only get its first aircraft by 2010. Nearly one third of the 73 aircraft it adds to its existing fleet of over 140 aircraft between now and 2012 will be Dreamliners.
Still waiting: A file photo of Boeing 787 Dreamliner. A worker union strike at Boeing may further delay deliveries of the jets to Air India. Tangi Quemener / AFP
“It has not caught us unawares. We are kept posted of the schedule with regards to the developments of the aircraft by Boeing,” said Air India’s executive director Jitender Bhargava.
The airline’s chairman and managing director Raghu Menon had told Mint last month that the airline was planning to expand new routes starting winter next year and was training crew to operate the new aircraft. Bhargava on Friday said the delay will not impact the airline largely because of the global traffic slowdown
“Some delay is not unusual, as these new aircraft have a long development cycle and a complex global supply chain. If there are persistent delays, then the collective impact on the manufacturer is far greater then the individual impact on a carrier. All put together, for Boeing it is a reputational setback and it will have financial consequences.” said Kapil Arora, an aviation analyst with audit and consulting firm Ernst and Young.
Boeing’s vice-president, sales (commercial airplane), Dinesh A. Keskar, who met Air India officials on Friday, said the firm was assessing the extent of the delay. It has roughly 900 orders for Dreamliners, the first of which was to fly with Japan’s All Nippon Airways mid-next year.