Agents Talk Back – What’s Happening With the Dreamliner?

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With questions surrounding the technical glitches of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner continuing to mount, a UK-based travel agent is reporting that the concerns have cost Qatar Airways a booking of 16 passengers because they did not want to fly on the plane, TTG Digital reports.

David Gregg, who owns Different Corners Travel in the UK, told TTG that a group of 16 passengers flying to Perth opted to fly on Singapore Airlines instead, even though the flights cost £200 more.

The news comes as All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines have decided to ground their entire Dreamliner fleet, The Washington Post reports. On Wednesday morning, January 16, 2013, a 787 operated by ANA was forced to make an emergency landing due to a battery-fault warning and a smell of smoke. On Jan. 7, a Japan Airlines Dreamliner battery caught fire in Boston.

Other carriers continue to move ahead with Dreamliner flights.

Bloomberg reports that LOT Polish Airlines will have its inaugural Dreamliner flight go forward today. LOT told Bloomberg that its Dreamliners are not among the initial batch Boeing produced and have “modifications which reduce technical problems appearing in previously manufactured Dreamliners for the other carriers.” Qatar Airways has also elected to continue Dreamliner flights.

Bloomberg also reports that the Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation into the Dreamliner program, especially the airplane’s power system and lithium-ion batteries. The Dreamliner is the first commercial aircraft that uses this type of battery.

The BBC has an analysis of the safety concerns that suggests that many analysts having likened the Dreamliner’s problems to “teething concerns” – common technical issues that crop up when a new aircraft enters service. Nevertheless, the BBC notes that the situation has already damaged Boeing’s reputation and the reputation of many of the airlines involved, and that the road ahead will largely depend on the outcome of the FAA investigation and the investigations of regulators in India and Japan. Much of the Dreamliner’s future may rest on whether or not the investigations turn up easy fixes or more severe issues, the BBC says. At the same time, the BBC notes that no direct competitor to the Dreamliner currently exists, either from rival manufacturer Airbus or emerging aircraft manufacturers in Russia and China.

Have any of your clients expressed reservations about the new plane? Let us know what you think!


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