By Chris Borowski
WARSAW Feb 14Poland's ailing airline LOT
said it does not plan to fly its new 787 Dreamliners
until late October, missing the vital summer season, and expects
Boeing to treat it as a special client in tackling the
LOT, the first European airline to add Boeing's newest
passenger jet to its fleet, has taken delivery of two planes and
was to receive three others by the end of next month.
But last month the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) grounded all 50 Boeing Dreamliners in commercial service
after a series of battery-related incidents, including a fire on
a parked 787 at Boston's Logan International Airport.
LOT's new Chief Executive Sebastian Mikosz said on Thursday
the uncertainty over when the Dreamliners would be allowed to
return to the sky had forced the carrier to plan the crucial
summer season without the new jets.
"Based on our knowledge of the progress of work on the
problems investigated by the FAA, we decided that we will not
plan to use the Dreamliners in our network to the end of
October. At all," Mikosz said.
LOT had put the Dreamliners at the heart of its turnaround
strategy that would rely more on long-haul flights. It planned
for the new jets to replace all of its ageing 767's.
"I expect today, and I think I have the right to after 25
years of cooperation, for Boeing to help us, a special client,"
he added, but did not elaborate.
LOT has already indicated it would seek compensation from
the U.S. aircraft maker.
The Dreamliner problems add to the growing troubles of the
87-year-old Polish carrier, which received 400 million zlotys
($129 million) in state aid in December to prevent it from
running out of cash.
LOT's net losses totalled some $420 million since 2008.
Mikosz, who return to the helm four days ago after a stint
in 2009-10, said he was committed to save LOT and to privatise
it as soon as this year, despite its poor financial standing.
LOT, which has previously said it would need more cash from
the government, is awaiting clearance from the European
Commission for the state aid.
If the European Union's executive body rules against it, LOT
could share the fate of Hungary's Malev, which collapsed a year
ago after it was forced to give back millions of euros in state
Mikosz confirmed the Polish carrier is looking to cut more
than 500 jobs and significantly reduce the number of its