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November 28, 2010 6:29 pm
The repeated delays affecting Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner are “a great disappointment”, said its first customer, All Nippon Airways, in a fresh sign of pressure on the maker of the world’s most advanced long-haul passenger jet.
Japan’s second-biggest airline by revenues is still unclear about the precise cause of a fire on a 787 test flight earlier this month, and was pressing Boeing to say whether it would result in further delays to the jet, said Shinichiro Ito, ANA chief executive.
“We are pushing them to present the detailed cause of the irregularities,” Mr Ito said in an interview with the Financial Times in London.
“We are pushing Boeing to present the schedule for the delivery as soon as possible.”
Mr Ito said ANA, which was supposed to get the first of the 55 Dreamliners it has ordered more than two years ago, had been forced to revise fleet retirement plans and take other steps to fill the gap caused by the delays to the 787.
In August, Boeing pushed back ANA’s delivery date by several weeks to the middle of the first quarter of 2011, citing engine availability problems.
Many analysts believe the recent fire could cause yet more delays, although Boeing has not said this would be the case.
The fuel efficiency promised by the 787’s lightweight part-carbon composite construction has made it one of the fastest selling aircraft Boeing has yet built.
Mr Ito said ANA remained proud to be the launch customer for the 787, and laughed off the idea that the airline might wish it had never ordered the jet.
“Never! It’s a dream!” he said. “Of course we have a great disappointment about the delay but our top priority is to have an excellent fleet.”
Separately, Mr Ito said ANA, which has already raised its full-year net profit forecasts once this year, from Y5bn to Y6bn ($59.5m to $71.4m), was optimistic about its final results for the 12 months to the end of March 2011, as it rebounded from two years of losses.
“Six billion yen is our minimum target,” he said, adding that the airline’s recent financial performance had been “beyond our expectations”.
That improvement has come despite Mr Ito’s repeated criticism of the potential impact on ANA of the large amounts of public money poured into its larger rival, Japan Airlines, since the flag-carrier filed for bankruptcy in January.
But he said that as JAL had cut back its operations, ANA had increased its market share and that the operational scale of ANA was “almost equivalent” to that of JAL.
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