Most 787 Operators Hope To Resume Flying In May

By Jens Flottau, Adrian Schofield
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

This would allow 787s to resume flying on routes where they have been temporarily replaced with other aircraft. Frequencies have had to be reduced, and some routes cut altogether to accommodate the groundings.

Some of the international routes that have been suspended due to the groundings may take longer to be reintroduced, says the ANA spokesman. “It is not decided yet, but it seems we need more time to resume services to both Seattle and San Jose, [Calif.],” he says.

When ANA first announced that the 787 cancellations would extend to May 31, an airline representative told Aviation Week that if the aircraft were cleared before then, the carrier might consider using some for special “relief flights,” to boost the domestic schedule where necessary. The spokesman confirms there is still a possibility that such flights may occur during May.

Japan Airlines was operating seven 787s on international routes before the grounding. It has arranged for alternate aircraft on these routes through the end of May, and has also had to cut some frequencies. The carrier says it will make a decision about when its 787s will return to service after JCAB has issued its clearance.

A JAL spokesman says no decision has been made on when test flights will begin. The airline had to postpone the start of a new route to Helsinki due to the 787 problems. There is no word on a revised launch date.

United Airlines, with a fleet of six 787s, the only North American operator of the type so far, says it is selling tickets for domestic flights on 787s from May 31 onward. The airline also plans to launch its new Denver-Tokyo Narita route on June 10 using the aircraft. United cautions that this will depend on completion of the modifications before that date. On the other hand, United is prepared to make “additional schedule changes, and possibly insert more 787s [back in the schedule] earlier,” as it gains more visibility on how the modification work progresses.

A spokesman for LAN says the carrier is working with the authorities and Boeing on implementing the modifications on its three aircraft, but did not reveal any dates or destinations.

Air India has plans to restart 787 flights toward mid-May, initially on domestic routes. The airline is looking at adding long-haul services by the end of May, initially from New Delhi to Frankfurt and Paris. Air India flew the aircraft to Bangalore, Calcutta and Chennai before the grounding. Of the airline's six 787s, it plans to work on two aircraft at a time once the new batteries have been delivered. The work is expected to take about one week per aircraft.

Qatar Airways plans to resume scheduled services on May 5, initially on the Doha-Dubai route. The carrier leaves open when the 787 will be redeployed on long-haul routes, although CEO Akbar Al Baker has made clear he wants this to happen as soon as possible.

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