Sources close to both Ethiopian Airlines (ET) and Kenya Airways spoke of a degree of “disappointment and even some shock” when confirmation was finally given by Boeing after months of not exactly being forthcoming about its problems with the B787 production, that the first aircraft delivery would likely take place in the last quarter of 2010.
Both airlines had placed orders long ago for the Dreamliner, and ET has already taken alternative steps by ordering for the first time in its illustrious history, Airbus models, driving a wedge into its previously close relationship with Boeing. Kenya Airways is said to be actively considering its options and is pondering a move to make good of the situation, as its network expansion, especially for planned new long-haul destinations, depends on getting new aircrafts on line.
Boeing has been accused by some industry observers of concealing for a period of time the true extent of its problems with the B787 production issues and keeping customers out of the loop in an alleged effort to retain orders and avoid cancellations, which in the present economic climate could have serious consequences for its share price and reputation in the market place. However, those are allegations are probably hard to prove without access to the internal communications at the highest level of the Boeing hierarchy. Investigative reporters, particularly in the United States, will leave no stone unturned to eventually uncover the truth. Once that story breaks, heads are bound to roll, as recently demanded by the chairman of Qatar Airways in widely-publicized comments.
More public comments from the chairman of Qatar Airways, who had not minced words about his misgivings of Boeing’s handling of the situation on several occasions, are being eagerly awaited on, especially since Qatar Airways is a major customer of Boeing and has already let it slip that orders could be shifted away in favor of Airbus. Should that happen, it could open the floodgates for more similar reactions, and Boeing will be left to rue not having been more forthcoming and open with its customers and the public at large.
In a related development, it was learned mid-week that at least one top Boeing manager, the company’s commercial airplanes president Scott Carson, will be leaving the company shortly in connection with the ongoing delays, which – compared to the originally given dates for first flight and subsequent deliveries – is now nearly 3 years late.