June 26, 2009

Qantas cuts back on Dreamliner order

Australian airline Qantas Airways said Friday it was canceling an order for 15 Dreamliner 787 jets, Boeing's long-delayed, wide-body aircraft.

The airline also said it would put off delivery of 15 other 787 Dreamliners for four years, The New York Times reported Friday.

A cancellation of 15 jets would save the company $3 billion, Qantas said.

Qantas is still represents Boeing's largest customer for the more-fuel efficient aircraft, with 50 other jets on order.

Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said the cancellation was an economic decision, not based on the latest delay of the aircraft's first test flight, which Boeing announced earlier this week.

Qantas announced its original B787 order in December 2005, and the operating environment for the world's airlines has clearly changed dramatically since then, Joyce said.

That explanation, however, does not bode well for Boeing, as many other airlines are suffering from falling revenue and could follow suit with canceled or delayed orders.

For Qantas to pull or defer deliveries is a major, major step, said industry analyst Derek Sadubin, at the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation, an Australian consulting company.