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Gulf Airlines get ready for Boeing’s 777X
Carriers warn that Boeing must avoid the same mistakes of the Dreamliner...
May 6, 2013 8:46 by Reuters
As they prepare to buy Boeing’s new 777X jet, Gulf airline giants Emirates and Qatar Airways are warning that Boeing must avoid the mistakes of the 787 Dreamliner, which cost customers millions of dollars when its batteries failed.
These fast-growing Gulf carriers are expected to be among the first and possibly biggest customers for Boeing’s latest offering, which was presented to customers last week.
“For sure they have changed, I hope they have,” Emirates’ President Tim Clark said, when asked whether the Dreamliner crisis has changed Boeing’s approach and thinking.
“Boeing came out of the ashes of the Sonic Cruiser years ago and came up with the Dreamliner, which was a leap of faith by any stretch. They were just beginning to stabilize when things went wrong again,” said Clark.
Emirates is not a customer of the Dreamliner but is the largest 777 operator with up to 175 jets that will need replacing soon.
Boeing announced it had begun selling an upgraded aircraft family code-named 777X, launching a race against Airbus for sales of long-haul jets.
Boeing, which has just emerged from the Dreamliner crisis, will now have to convince customers who have lost millions due to the grounding of the 787s.
Qatar Airways, which grounded all its five Dreamliner aircraft, would receive compensation from Boeing, its chief executive Akbar al Baker said.
“Everyone takes risks but Boeing took a very big risk because they went from ground zero to 100 in one leap instead of going in stages,” Qatar Airways’ outspoken chief Baker told Reuters on board its first 787 flight from Dubai to Doha last week, after the battery fix was installed.
Apart from Qatar Airways, fast-growing Gulf airline Etihad Airways has 41 Dreamliners on order.
“We put together a permanent and comprehensive fix for the issue and we are confident of the 787 safety,” Boeing’s Middle East President Jeff Johnson said when asked about assurances to its Gulf customers.
U.S. regulators formally lifted flight restrictions on the 787 last month and allowed the redesigned lithium-ion battery system to be installed in airlines.
Ethiopian Airlines became the first carrier last month to resume flying the revamped Dreamlinerfollowed by All Nippon Airways and Qatar Airways.
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