ANA has so far been able to operate about half the scheduled Narita-Seattle flights in the weeks leading up to March 31 using alternate aircraft. However, it has now decided to suspend the service altogether through May. The ANA spokeswoman notes that it is difficult to make international routes work with just a few flights a week. Also, ANA can still offer code-share service with United Airlines on the route.
Eventually, the carrier will negotiate compensation with Boeing, but ANA says it has not yet begun such talks, as its focus is on returning the aircraft to service. The only estimate the airline has released so far is that the groundings cost it ¥1.4 billion ($15.3 million) through the end of January.
The 787 problems are expected to delay delivery schedules for many of the aircraft's customers. ANA is scheduled to receive three more 787s by the end of March, but it seems unlikely that this target will be met. The carrier says that while it has been speaking with Boeing daily, it has had no updates regarding timetable revisions for 787 deliveries. It has a total order of 66, split between the -8 and -9 versions.
Rival carrier JAL is also suffering from the 787 battery issues, having grounded its fleet of seven aircraft. Because it operates them only on international routes, fewer flights are affected, but this also means it is more complicated to find replacement aircraft.
JAL is operating alternate aircraft on all of its current 787 routes, although it is canceling selected flights from Narita to Boston, San Diego and Honolulu through May 31. The carrier has also had to postpone indefinitely the launch of its Tokyo Narita-Helsinki service, which was earmarked for the 787 and due to start on Feb. 25.
JAL estimates that the 787 groundings will cost it ¥700 million through the end of March. It is due to receive 45 787s, including both -8s and -9s.
In the long term, the question will be whether Boeing's tight relationship with the Japanese carriers will be affected. There may already be signs of openings for Airbus in Boeing's near-monopoly on Japanese orders; JAL Chairman Emeritus Kazuo Inamori recently revealed in a television interview that he has deep reservations about the carrier's reliance on a single vendor. However, Japan's ties with Boeing run deep, with several major components of the 787 manufactured there—including the troublesome lithium-ion batteries.