Boeing facing compensation claims over 787's grounding
BY MACIEJ MARTEWICZ & ROBERT WALL Bloomberg News
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
3/06/13 at 3:35 AM
Boeing Co. is facing increased pressure from airlines stemming from the grounding of the 787 Dreamliner fleet.
LOT Polish Airlines said Tuesday it will push ahead with compensation claims, and British carrier Thomson Airways indicated it wants Boeing to cover the refunds it promised passengers who were shunted onto older planes.
LOT, the first European carrier to receive the Boeing 787, wants payment by the end of June, Poland Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski said.
Thomson Airways said Dreamliner flights planned for May and June will be carried out using older Boeing 767s, and that passengers who paid extra to fly on the new jet will be reimbursed.
"We will ensure that we are adequately compensated for the situation we and our customers are facing," Thomson spokeswoman Grace Jones said.
The Boeing 787 has been grounded worldwide since Jan. 16 as regulators investigate battery problems following a fire aboard one plane and an emergency landing by another. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing an electrical system fix proposed last week by Boeing.
LOT is the first airline to publicly demand compensation from Boeing for the grounding. The Warsaw-based carrier received its first 787s just after the grounding began, leaving one of them stuck in Chicago, where it had flown on an inaugural trans-Atlantic flight.
LOT, unprofitable since at least 2008, had counted on the 787s to help it cut its fuel costs, Budzanowski said. Poland will also want Boeing to provide backup airplanes if it turns out that the Dreamliners aren't able to fly, he said.
LOT said last month it has ditched the 787 from its summer plan and is seeking gap-filler planes, while adding that it could restore them should Boeing come up with a fix in time. The lease of three Boeing 767s will be extended, as the Dreamliners will probably remain out of service until October, LOT said.
The carrier may halt payments for the two 787s it has already taken until the compensation issue is resolved, Tomasz Balcerzak, its head of operations, said on Radio 3. The carrier, which is losing about $50,000 a day from the grounding, is prepared to sue Boeing should the talks fail, he said.
Norwegian Air Shuttle AS, another 787 customer-in-waiting, said Tuesday it has signed an agreement with Lisbon-based lessor HiFly to rent two Airbus SAS A340-300s, along with crews, to commence long-haul services if its Dreamliners are delayed.
British Airways, which was due to receive 787s this year, also expects deliveries to be late. An executive said the carrier, Europe's largest, would keep existing 767s flying until the new model arrives.
Boeing has a backlog of about 850 orders for the 787, with a catalog value of at least $186 billion.
Original Print Headline: Boeing faces claims over 787
Boeing Co. has a backlog of about 850 orders for its 787 Dreamliner, which has been grounded for safety reasons since mid-January. Bloomberg file