* Qatar carrier resumes flights with modified Boeing 787
* Airline CEO says jets should not have been grounded
* May lease or buy planes to offset previous 787 delays
* Very interested in revamped Boeing 777 when launched
DUBAI, May 1 Qatar Airways said it would receive
compensation from Boeing for the grounding of its 787
Dreamliners, as it returned the aircraft to service for the
first time in three months.
"We will get compensation because we took airplanes we
couldn't fly. Boeing understands that," Chief Executive Akbar Al
Baker said before boarding the first flight from Dubai to
Qatar's capital Doha, accompanied by reporters.
Al Baker criticized the decision by regulators to ground the
787 in January, a move which he described as an over-reaction to
worldwide social media coverage generated by two battery
incidents, as well as images of a Japanese 787 being evacuated.
"I still feel the aircraft should not have been grounded,"
Al Baker said. "I think there was reaction due to the
unnecessary evacuation of a Japanese aircraft. People are too
sensitive to what the social media says," Al Baker said.
Investigators say they do not yet know what caused two
lithium-ion batteries to melt down. The Federal Aviation
Administration last week approved a revised battery system
designed to prevent the batteries overheating and contain any
flammable materials inside a reinforced container.
"The grounding of the 787 has really impacted Qatar's
expansion severely. This is impacting my bottom line," Al Baker
said, adding, "We were planning 15 new routes and now we have to
settle for 10."
All five 787 Dreamliners delivered to Qatar Airways before
the grounding should be in service with modified batteries
before the end of the month, the airline said.
ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines, whose
aircraft suffered the original battery problems that led to the
grounding, said on Tuesday that the crisis would cost them a
combined $110 million of operating profit, an expense they may
ask Boeing to shoulder..
Qatar Airways is among airlines already expected to receive
compensation for a three-year delay in the development of the
787, caused by a series of production snags.
Al Baker said this could lead to fresh plane orders or
leasing contracts to help plug the gap.
"We are short of airplanes. So we will look at ... either
purchase or lease of interim airplanes from Airbus or
Boeing. We have not yet decided."
The remarks appear to indicate potential interest in the
Airbus A330, which Qatar already operates.
Delays on the 787 have led to an increase of sales of the
Airbus A330, an older aircraft that the Dreamliner was partially
designed to replace. Boeing plans to bring out a new stretched
787 that it believes will put a halt to the A330's revival.
Turning to separate plans by Boeing to update its most
popular long-haul aircraft, the 777, Al Baker said Qatar Airways
would be "very interested" in two versions presented to airlines
when the project, dubbed "777X," was officially launched.