Airlines seek alternative for grounded 787

ORLANDO, Fla. — The prolonged grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has forced some airlines to seek alternative arrangements, including renting other planes to fill gaps for the upcoming busy summer travel season.

It’s a sign that some Boeing customers don’t expect a quick fix to the 787’s problems.

Jeff Knittel of airplane leasing company CIT said on Tuesday that unnamed airlines are talking to CIT about alternatives to the Dreamliner. He said leasing rates for planes like the Boeing 767 and the Airbus A330 “have remained strong and strengthened slightly.”

Interest has come from a handful of airlines that already have the plane or were supposed to get it before the summer travel season.

“This is not some feeding frenzy out there,” Knittel said at an aviation finance conference. Airline fleet managers are just being practical, he said.

Boeing’s newest jet has been grounded for almost two months because of two battery incidents, including a fire. Boeing has proposed a fix but it requires federal approval and further testing.

Fifty planes have been delivered to eight airlines. Deliveries are currently halted, but Boeing is still building the planes and has said it still expects to deliver at least 60 this year.

For now, airlines are making other plans. Last week, Norwegian Air Shuttle, which was due to receive its first 787s in April and June, said it will lease two Airbus A340s along with flight crews if it doesn’t get its 787s on time.

The replacements will be costly for airlines, because planes like the 767 generally have more seats and are not as fuel efficient as the 787. Many airlines planned to use the 787 specifically on routes where the larger 767 was unlikely to be profitable, such as United’s planned Denver-to-Tokyo flight, which has been postponed. United Continental Holdings Inc. has six 787s.

Boeing has 200 engineers working on a battery fix and has proposed a solution to U.S. and Japanese aviation regulators who are currently reviewing it.

Boeing, regulators, and the airlines that fly the 787 haven’t said when they expect the plane to return to the skies. But Knittel’s comments show that at least some airlines don’t think it will be soon.

“This isn’t about whether this will be resolved but when it will be resolved,” Knittel said.

Knittel still stands behind the 787. His company has 10 of them on order and is expected to get its first at the end of 2014.

“I’d love to be in a position where we could accelerate orders,” he said.

More in Herald Business Journal

Aerospace workers adjust to changing industry

The number of Boeing workers dropped almost 10 percent since last year.

Tom Hoban
Are millennials warming up to life in suburbia?

They dominate the apartment market and their wants need to be accounted for, says columnist Tom Hoban.

Camano artist mixes flask, paintings for successful cocktail

Art flasks prove popular as bachelorette gifts, birthday presents and wedding favors.

Fluke’s T6 Electrical Testers receives Innovation Awards honor

Fluke’s T6 Electrical Testers have received top honors in the Tools and… Continue reading

Everett volunteer named ‘community champion’ by Molina Healthcare

Everett’s Jorge Galindo was one of seven people across the state to… Continue reading

Cascade Valley Health to hold Festival of Trees in Arlington

Cascade Valley Health Foundation will be holding their fifth annual Festival of… Continue reading

7-Eleven program helped add 500 trees, shrubs to Everett park

Last month, 7-Eleven helped plant more than 500 trees and shrubs at… Continue reading

Pentagon inspector general praises secret $80 billion bomber

US Government Accountability Office in 2016 rejected a protest filed by Boeing-Lockheed Martin.

Everett’s Sentry Credit celebrates a quarter century in business

Sentry Credit Inc. in Everett is celebrating its 25th year in business.… Continue reading

Most Read