With the grounding of the world’s entire fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a very large section of the airline industry will now be increasingly worried as to just how quickly Boeing can identify and then fix the problem. British Airways have 24 Dreamliners on order, split between the existing 800 series and the future, larger 900, with deliveries meant to have begun in the summer of 2013. With its increased range and and far greater fuel efficiency, British Airways had planned to use the aircraft to replace some of its older 767s although it now seems almost certain that there will be delays to its introduction. Although the airline hasn’t yet said where the new aircraft will fly to, it would seem that the eastern coast of the US would be an obvious initial destination. Thus far, all British Airways have said is that they retain full confidence in the aircraft and have no plans to delay or cancel any of their orders.
It could be far worse of course. At least, unlike other airlines (most notably JAL & All Nippon in Japan), British Airways don’t currently have any Dreamliners in service and aren’t therefore having to dust down older, retired aircraft and press them back into service. With only a few of the aircraft set for delivery this year, and spare aircraft in their fleet, British Airways won’t be too troubled by delays of a few months although, if only from a public perception point of view, they won’t want these problems to drag on for too long. The last aircraft to be grounded was the DC-10 and it could be argued that its reputation was never the same again.
Nor is British Airways even the first UK airline to be introducing the Dreamliner. That accolade goes to TUI who had been promoting the introduction of the aircraft into their fleet with a glossy tv campaign. The first flights on the new aircraft were due to operate to Cancun in May so no doubt management and excited passengers will be watching the news closely.