Chinese airlines to get first 787 Dreamliners this month

BY    2013-05-16 19:48:21

  Several Boeing 787 Dreamliners will arrive at Chinese airlines before June, as Boeing Co resumes deliveries of the jetliners, Boeing China's president said on Wednesday.

  "The delivery of 787s is on track, and several Dreamliners will be delivered to China this quarter," Marc Allen said.

  The process of the Dreamliner's airworthiness certification in China is in its phase-out period now, he added.

  China Southern Airlines Co Ltd and Hainan Airlines Co Ltd will be the first Chinese customers to get 787 Dreamliners, he said.

  China Southern Airlines said that its first 787 Dreamliner will arrive by the end of May and the carrier will get eight of its 10 orders this year, Yangcheng Evening News, a Guangzhou local newspaper, reported on Tuesday.

  Boeing refused to comment on the report, but Allen said he is confident that the first batch of Dreamliners will be delivered to China before June.

  Four Chinese airlines ordered 41 Dreamliners by the end of 2012, and 58 customers globally are currently waiting for more than 800 Dreamliners.

  Boeing plans to improve its production rate from the current seven a month to 10 by the end of 2013.

  Meanwhile, Boeing delivered a Dreamliner to All Nippon Airways Co Ltd on Tuesday, the first delivery since the aircraft's problems with its lithium-ion batteries were resolved.

  All 50 flying Dreamliners were grounded in January after two incidents on Japanese jetliners in which a battery overheated. A Japan Airlines Dreamliner caught fire while parked at Boston's Logan International Airport on Jan 7. About a week later, an All Nippon Airways jetliner flying over Japan had to make an emergency landing after smoke was detected in an electrical system.

  Two airlines are already flying their Dreamliners again now that the US jetliner maker has fixed the problem. Other airlines using Dreamliners already have the aircraft scheduled to fly again, Allen said.

  United Airlines Inc, which uses six Dreamliners, plan to fly the aircraft again on Monday and will use the Dreamliner on its Shanghai-Los Angeles route beginning on Aug 3.

  "Our customers in the Shanghai market have demanded Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which provide a more comfortable flying experience," said James Mueller, the United Airlines' Atlantic and Pacific sales vice-president.

  The Dreamliner, with a small cabin but long range, is more suitable for point-to-point routes, he said, as airlines are looking for more business opportunities in China's smaller cities.

  Meanwhile, Chinese airlines also want to expand their international market share with the Dreamliner, which has a maximum range of 16,000 km.

  Hainan Airlines, which ordered 10 Dreamliners, plans to use the aircraft on its new China-US route.

  "The Dreamliner will be used in our Beijing-to-Chicago route, which will be launched in September," said Wang Yingming, president of Hainan Airlines Co Ltd.

  Wang said the carrier also plans to use the new aircraft on its other two routes between Beijing and North America.

  The airlines' demands on international expansion make Boeing focus on selling the aircraft with 250 to 350 seats in China, including Boeing 787 and 777 aircraft.

  "We expect in the next 20 years, there will be 700 aircraft sold in that category in China," Allen said.

  Airbus SAS, Boeing's main rival, is working on its A350 XWB jetliners, which are meant to compete with Dreamliner.

  The European airplane builder also forecast that China will have more than 1,000 aircraft with 250 to 350 seats in the next 20 years, said Fabrice Bregier, president and CEO of Airbus.

  The A350 XWB, which has 630 confirmed orders worldwide, including 10 orders from Air China Co Ltd, will make its first flight in June or July, he added.

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