Boeing 787 problems: Thomson delays start of services

A Boeing 787 at Farnborough air show Thomson had been due to take delivery of the first of its 787 planes in February

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Thomson Airways has delayed the start of its flights using Boeing's troubled new 787 planes.

Passengers who had been expecting to be among the first to travel on a 787 from the UK in May and June will now be transferred to other aircraft, the airline said.

Thomson said a "lack of delivery schedule" from Boeing had caused it to change its plans.

All 787 Dreamliners were grounded in January due to problems with batteries.

"We understand how frustrating and disappointing this news will be for those customers looking forward to flying on the 787 Dreamliner, we are equally as disappointed that Boeing was not able to confirm a delivery date for us but unfortunately these circumstances are out of our control," said Thomson in a statement.

Passengers will now travel on Thomson's 767 aircraft, and they will receive a refund on the supplement they paid for a 787 Dreamliner flight.

They will also be able to change their holiday plans without having to pay a supplement.

'Several steps'

Thomson, which is owned by Tui Travel, had been due to take delivery of its first Dreamliner in February.

Altogether, Thomson has orders for eight planes to be delivered over the next three years, out of a total of 13 ordered across the Tui group.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, the two other UK-based airlines who have ordered 787s, said they were still working towards their original delivery dates.

BA expects to receive the first of 24 Dreamliners in May, but it has contingency plans in place, it said. Virgin, however, is not due to get its first Dreamliner until September next year.

On Monday, Boeing's head of commercial aircraft, Ray Conner, said the company was ready to move quickly to fix the batteries if its proposed solution gets regulatory approval.

But on Tuesday, Japan's aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Bureau, said there were still "several steps" that had to be taken before any fix for the Dreamliner battery could be approved.

So far, 50 Dreamliners have been delivered to airlines by Boeing, but all are currently grounded due to concerns that one of the lithium-ion batteries on board could leak, potentially causing fires.

The continued lack of a solution for the battery problem is causing a headache for Boeing and the airlines who have had to cancel their 787 flights.

Japanese airline ANA, which is Boeing's biggest customer so far, last week cancelled its 787 flights up to the end of May, which includes an important Japanese holiday.

The US planemaker is having to compensate airlines who cannot use their planes, and pay to investigate and try to find a workable solution to the problems.

A further 473 Dreamliners have been ordered by at least 44 different airlines around the world.

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