Leaves could be changing color by the time Poland’s troubled state-owned airline LOT flies customers on one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners again.
Passengers will be able to take Dreamliner flights with LOT by the end of October, said the firm’s new CEO Sebastian Mikosz. Until then the carrier will continue to use Boeing 767s on its Dreamliner routes. The Dreamliners might be ready for takeoff earlier, but putting them back on the flight schedule will take at least a couple of weeks, Mr Mikosz said.
But every day without its Dreamliners is money lost for LOT, which faces bankruptcy, just hired a new CEO and is about to fire as many as 700 workers. The suspension of all Dreamliner flights while Boeing investigates an issue with the planes’ batteries could not have come at a worse time.
The company just received zł.400 million in government bailout money at the end of last year and could need zł.1 billion in all. Company executives were hoping the Dreamliners – with their ability to carry more passengers, their larger business class and their better fuel efficiency – could help bring the company back from the brink. In a strategy document released at the end of last year, the company said the addition of the Dreamliners would boost revenue by 20 percent, once they replaced the Boeing 767s currently in use.
But as a result of the battery issues, Boeing has suspended further deliveries – and LOT was expecting five new Dreamliners by March. The two that LOT already had in use were grounded. One remained in Warsaw, the other in Chicago, having just completed its maiden voyage.
LOT immediately took a financial hit. To replace the grounded Dreamliners, it had to extend the lease on its older 767 planes. The leasing firms, knowing LOT had little alternative, pushed for higher prices or longer deals, Tomasz Balcerzak, a member of the company’s management board, told TVN 24.
Boeing could end up footing the bill. “We’re recording all costs related to the grounding,” LOT’s spokesperson Marek Kłucinski told The Wall Street Journal without specifying an amount. “When the time comes, we’ll claim them from Boeing.”
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