Qatar Airways Reinstates 787

 - May 2, 2013, 9:56 AM
A Qatar Airways 787 collects CEO Akbar Al Baker and a contigent of Boeing officials from Doha to Dubai on Wednesday. (Photo: Qatar Airways)

Qatar Airways became the second Boeing 787 customer to return a Dreamliner to service after a worldwide grounding of the fleet in January as Flight QR116 took off from Doha for Dubai Wednesday at 1:15 p.m. local time. The flight landed some four days after an Ethiopian Airlines 787 flew its first revenue service on a route between Addis Ababa and Nairobi.

Qatar said the 787—the lone Dreamliner in its fleet of five to undergo the battery system modifications specified by U.S. authorities—will resume daily services between Doha and London on May 15.

Joined by Boeing Middle East president Jeffrey Johnson, Boeing deputy fleet chief David Silver and a delegation of regional and international media, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker sat among the first group of passengers to fly aboard the airline’s reinstated Dreamliner 787.

“I always said I would be the first to fly on Qatar Airways’ 787 once it returned to service, and I’m thrilled that our Dreamliner fleet is back in the skies, providing our passengers with an unparalleled level of service and comfort,” said Al Baker.

“Throughout the grounding of our fleet we have worked closely with Boeing to monitor the situation and work toward getting our fleet up and running again…Safety has always been the number one priority for Qatar Airways and I have full confidence in the safety and security of this aircraft.”

Boeing has refused comment on which customer might next deploy a 787 on a revenue flight, but so far launch customer All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and LAN Airlines parent LATAM Airlines Group have each specified June 1 as their target for returning their 787s to service.

Meanwhile, United Airlines—the only Dreamliner operator in the U.S.—wouldn’t confirm to AIN reports that it planned to resume service with the first of its six 787s on May 31. “United has technical operations personnel on site to support the Boeing team on the modifications,” said an airline spokesman in a written statement. “We look forward to completing this work and returning our Dreamliners to service…We are disappointed that we haven’t been able to fly our 787s. Boeing has been a great business partner as we work through this difficult time and we don’t comment on our dealings or discussion with Boeing.”