High tolerance

Despite delays to Boeing's Dreamliner 787, Middle East airlines and aviation industry figures are willing to bide their time.
COMMENT, Transportation


If patience is a virtue then Middle East airline chiefs are seemingly more righteous than most. For CEOs operating in other industries, assembly line delays would be intolerable.

But the aviation industry's elite isn't so easily displeased, with many directors reacting coolly to Boeing's announcement of further aircraft production setbacks.

The US aircraft manufacturer was supposed to start delivering its Dreamliner 787 by this summer. But Boeing recently said customers will have to wait until next year's third quarter - more than 12 months later than scheduled.

Despite the delays, Middle East airlines and aviation industry figures are willing to bide their time.

It's surprising given most carrier chiefs' desire to launch new routes and increase frequencies on existing services. But a quick glance at some companies' development plans reveals all. With long-term fleet expansion strategies in place, most operators can afford to spare a few extra months - or even years - before receiving their orders.

For example, Gulf Air still has another eight years to wait before its first 787s are due. Unsurprisingly, the Bahraini carrier's spokesman Adnan Malek recently confirmed there were no plans to cancel the order. He added with a 2016 delivery date in place, the airline's operation will not be affected.

Nevertheless, Malek did admit a compensation clause was in place should Boeing fail to deliver on time. Other airlines and aviation groups will most likely have the same contractual agreements, prompting many to adopt Gulf Air's relaxed stance.

Qatar Airways appears equally nonchalant about the delays, despite having 30 firm and 30 optional orders in place. A spokesman from the Qatari carrier was unwilling to comment, but the operation's management have shown little displeasure so far.

Elsewhere, other operators waiting for deliveries include aviation group Dubai Aerospace Enterprise and Kuwait Aviation Lease and Finance Company.

Like Gulf Air, Dubai-based DAE expects its first 787s to arrive in 2016, giving mangement little cause for concern. But that may change if Boeing continues to push back deadlines in the coming months or years.

Rob Morris is the editor of Aviation Business.

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