Dubai Air Show

Etihad airways gets first 777-300ER in January

 - December 7, 2006, 9:54 AM

Etihad Airways will take delivery of its first 777-300ER on January 6, almost three months later than originally planned. The Abu Dhabi-based airline placed an order for five of the airplanes last December, at which time Boeing promised to deliver the first this past October, followed by two each in November and December. However, the near month-long strike by machinists at Boeing’s Seattle-area facilities in September disrupted production of the 777 and 737 lines.

As a result of the strike Boeing expects to deliver 30 fewer airplanes this year than its originally projected 320. The company does not expect to recover that loss until 2007 due to supplier “choke points.” In pursuing its stated aim to act less as a manufacturer and more of a systems “integrator,” Boeing depends more on its suppliers to ensure a smooth production flow than ever before.

On that score, new company CEO James McNerney issued a vote of confidence to General Electric’s vice chairman David Calhoun during the announcement of Boeing’s 42-aircraft order from Emirates Airline on Sunday. Nevertheless, in late October McNerney expressed concern about suppliers’ ability to respond to production changes. Boeing plans to deliver 395 airplanes next year.

Boeing estimates the strike has cost it some $1.5 billion as a result in no small measure of delivery delays to the likes of Etihad and Emirates, which still awaits 23 777-300ERs from its original order for 30. Emirates expects to start taking delivery in 2007 from the batch it announced on Sunday.

When Etihad placed its order it stressed the need for early deliveries to advance its plans to fly new long-haul routes into Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. The airline plans to fly more than 50 airplanes by 2010, including at least four Airbus A380s.