Dubai-based leasing company LCAL has opted to shrink the size of its order for 787 Dreamliners from 21 airplanes to five, Boeing confirmed today. The move comes a week after Russia’s S7 Group, parent of S7 Airlines, cancelled an order for 15 of the airplanes. Together, the contract cancellations/modifications lowered the size of the 787 orderbook from 910 to 879.
Scheduled for first flight some time next quarter, the 787 lays claim as the fastest-selling commercial airplane in history. However, four major delays to the program due in large part to so-called traveled work from suppliers, a wing box redesign, a two-month strike by machinists and problems with fastener availability and conformity will force Boeing to pay penalties to airlines that have not voluntarily deferred deliveries. A certain number of cancellations and deferrals due to the global economic downturn and potential airline overcapacity over the next two years might, therefore, allow Boeing to advance the timing of other deliveries and mitigate somewhat its exposure to penalty charges.
Under the original delivery schedules, LCAL, in fact, had expected to take its first airplanes by now. Its decision to severely curtail the number of airplanes it plans to take, even at a date two years later than originally planned, appears to reflect a more pessimistic view of the market’s appetite for new aircraft. S7, meanwhile, says it has held talks about leasing the airplanes from a third party and taking delivery earlier than the originally scheduled date in 2014.