Dreamliner: it’s an EM problem, too

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While most of the coverage of the grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliner has focused on Japan and the US, the problem is worldwide, from Poland to Chile (via Ethiopia).

So who has the aircraft on order? Which airlines have already got them – and how big are their fleets?

In fact, of the airlines that taken delivery of Dreamliners, most are in emerging markets. There are five EM-based airlines: Qatar Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, LAN Airlines (of Chile), Ethiopian Airlines and Air India. The three developed-market airlines are the Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, plus United Airlines of the US, according to data from Boeing.

And of those other airlines with orders in place, 27 are from emerging markets and 20 from developed markets.

Of course, the orders are less significant in terms of impact to the airlines. The grounding will mess up plans for upgrading routes or opening new ones, but it won’t stop them flying passengers tomorrow – which is what causes most angst among customers.

Overall, EM-based airlines have taken delivery of 19 Dreamliners, compared with the 30 in the US and Japan.

But if we compare the fleet sizes, we can see which airlines are worst affected. This table tells the story:

Sources: Boeing, Planespotters

Japan’s carriers have the highest Dreamliner to overall fleet size ratio, but EM airlines aren’t far behind. With a fleet of over 700, United is best placed to absorb the impact of a grounding. With comparatively small fleets of 42 and 60, Poland’s LOT and Ethipian Airlines might be more disrupted.

Chile’s LAN said in a statement that “Flights that were scheduled to be operated by the 787 will be temporarily replaced with other aircraft in our fleet to mitigate any potential impacts that this situation could cause to its passengers and cargo clients.”

LOT said in a statement that “long-haul operations will be continued with 767 aircrafts, except [Thursday's] flight to Beijing, which will be cancelled.”

Ehiopian Airlines has promised to make a statement in due course – just three days ago the airline was boasting on its website that it had:

successfully integrated its four 787 Dreamliner aircraft in to its fleet with record length of non-stop flights and record high daily aircraft utilization in the industry. Since its first delivery in mid-August of last year, Ethiopian has logged 5,560 flight hours with average daily aircraft utilization of 14 hours.

With figures like these, the airline will need to get a backup plan in place fast.

[UPDATE] Ehiopian Airlines said in a statement that

Ethiopian Dreamliners have not encountered the type of problems such as those experienced by the other operators. However, as an extra precautionary safety measure and in line with its commitment of putting safety above all else, Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliners from operation and perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA.

One problem for carriers already operating the Dreamliner is the size of any redeployed replacement planes. The Dreamliner is larger than several other planes in operation and typically has a longer range.

Beyondbrics tried to reach Air India but the airline was unavailable at time of writing.

Related reading:
Global regulators ground Dreamliners
, FT
Boeing hopes to avoid Dreamliner backlash
, FT

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