Oman Air threatens to cancel ‘Eight-Seven order

The CEO of Oman Air continues to pressure Boeing to get the 787 program off the ground.

After more than two years of delays, the airline is losing patience, CEO Peter Hill tells Bloomberg News.  “I really hope they get their act together. Further delays might mean that we’d have to look elsewhere.”

Oman Air has plans to take six 787s in a deal with Kuwait-based Aviation Lease and Finance Co., which placed the order with Boeing back in 2007. The six planes are worth close to a billion dollars at list prices, but factoring what analysts say are typical discounts, it’s more likely that ALAFCO’s paying about $800 million.

Deliveries were scheduled to start in 2012, but that’s been pushed back to 2014.

Oman Air isn’t the only airline upset about the ongoing delays, caused mostly by Boeing’s decision to outsource major portions of the new jet to vendors who’ve been unable to deliver. Hill, however, may be the most outspoken of the disappointed Dreamliner customers — Thursday’s interview was the third time in as many months that he’s told reporters about his frustration with Boeing’s management.

In September, Hill complained that Boeing was keeping him in the dark about what was actually going on with the 787. “Boeing are playing it very close to their chest,” he told Maktoob, the Jordanian-based news service. “It doesn’t help for great dialogue between customers and the company and that is a criticism. We are not being kept informed enough on what’s really going on. That begs the question, do they really know how to solve some of these issues?”

And in October, Hill talked about how the delays were putting the airline in a bind, as it tries to anticipate how air traffic will rebound as the world edges out of the global recession.

“Boeing has said it can deliver the aircraft in 2014,” he told Emirates Business 24/7. “For the moment, we would probably be quite confident that it’s okay. But should business pick up, then maybe we would need some more Airbus as an interim model. If the Boeing gets delayed, then who knows?”

Boeing is telling customers that the first Dreamliner will fly before the end of the year, with deliveries set to start in late 2010. The District 751 Members who actually build the planes are committed to making that happen, Union President Tom Wroblewski said, despite last week’s disappointing announcement regarding the second 787 production line.

“The reality is, there won’t be any new jobs in South Carolina if our Members here in Puget Sound can’t find solutions for all the 787’s problems,” he said. “We’re the ones with the knowledge, experience and dedication to fix the mistakes and get the first planes flying and certified. Without us, the Dreamliner is just a pipedream.”  

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