Boeing's woes are getting no solace as its stock price continues to slide. According to a release from Norwegian, an Oslo-based air carrier, Boeing has given notice of a possible delay in the delivery of the Scandinavian carrier’s first 787 Dreamliner, which was scheduled to be delivered in late April. The June delivery may also be affected. In the event that the 787 is not operational in time for Norwegian’s services to New York and Bangkok replacement long-haul aircraft will be leased to ensure that flights are operated as planned.
The 787 is currently grounded worldwide due to a problem with lithium batteries that caused a fire on a plane still on the tarmac at Boston's Logan airport. The 50 Dreamliners in service were grounded on January 16 following a series of battery incidents. One of the incidents involved a plane in the air in Japan. The groundings have cost Boeing tens of millions of dollars, with no end in sight.
On February 7, the Federal Aviation Administration cleared Boeing to restart test flights of the Dreamliner under more stringent rules in order to get more data on potentially faulty batteries. However, federal authorities also want to examine how the batteries were approved in the first place, which may delay resuming delivery of Boeing's newest aircraft. The FAA decision followed an earlier, one-time flight to move a 787 from Texas to Washington state.
Based on this new information from Boeing, Norwegian will enter into an agreement with a leasing company to operate long-haul routes in the event of the Dreamliner being further delayed. Boeing has not announced a new delivery date or given a written confirmation of a potential delay, according to Norwegian. "In the event that the 787 is not operational in time for Norwegian’s services to New York and Bangkok, replacement long-haul aircraft will be leased for a period of up to three months to ensure flights are operated as scheduled. It has currently not been decided with what company Norwegian will sign an agreement. All passengers who have booked tickets will get detailed information about the flights once confirmed," declared Norwegian.
“I fully understand that customers who have been looking forward to flying our Dreamliner during the first weeks are disappointed by today’s announcement. Although a potential delay is completely out of our control we would like to apologize in advance if the Dreamliner isn’t ready for Norwegian’s first long-haul flights. We will, however, ensure that our passengers get to New York and Bangkok as smoothly and comfortably as possible. We will also give our customers the option to change their flights to a later departure,” said CEO Bjørn Kjos, who also expressed regrets to customers.
“As one of Boeing's biggest customers in Europe, we expect that the aircraft manufacturer does everything in its power to get the aircraft ready for delivery as soon as possible,” said Kjos.
"We are staying in close communication with the airline as we work towards an approved means of compliance with the FAA Airworthiness Directive and develop a plan for resumption of 787 deliveries,” Boeing said of Norwegian in a statement.
Norwegian’s first two 787s are owned by International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), one of the world’s biggest aircraft leasing agencies. ILFC is based in California.