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Published on : Monday, May 6, 2013
As they prepare to buy new 777X jet of Boeing, 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 due to battery problems.
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 787 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 787 customer, but is the largest 777 operator with up to 175 jets, some of which 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 is just emerging from the 787 crisis, will now have to convince customers who have lost millions due to the aircraft’s grounding.
Qatar Airways 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, 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.