Developing

Boeing Dreamliner grounded: UK airlines 'expect delivery as normal of 787'

BA, Virgin and Thomson Airways all said they expect to take delivery of the Dreamliners later this year as planned.

UK airlines due to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner said today they were confident their deliveries would not be affected by the grounding of the state-of-the-art plane.

European aviation regulators followed America today in ordering the grounding of Boeing's new Dreamliner due to safety concerns.

But BA, Virgin and Thomson Airways all said they expect to take delivery of the Dreamliners later this year as planned.

Thomson will be the first British airliner to fly the Dreamliner when the first of its eight-plane fleet leaves for Cancun, Mexico, on May 1.

Already years late into service due to production difficulties, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has run into a series of in-air problems in recent days.

The latest incident, an emergency landing after battery problems, prompted America's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to order US carriers to stop flying Dreamliners.

Today, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it was endorsing the FAA directive grounding the Dreamliner until the risk of fires is resolved.

The EASA order is for all European carriers flying the 787, which at the moment only applies to Polish airline LOT.

UK carrier Thomson Airways is set to be the first British airline to fly the Dreamliner.

It is due to take delivery of the first of eight 787s this spring, with the first flights due to leave on May 1 for Cancun in Mexico and Florida.

British Airways is due to take delivery of the first of 24 Dreamliners in May, while Virgin Atlantic is scheduled to start taking the first of 16 Dreamliners in summer 2014.

Thomson Airways said today: "Boeing has reassured us they will do everything possible to assist the FAA in their investigation, and will be taking every step to assure passengers and Thomson of the 787's safety and get the planes back into service.

"We will await the outcome of the FAA investigation into the 787 Dreamliner. At this time we are still working to our original delivery dates."

Virgin said: "We are still expecting to take delivery of 16 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from summer next year. Until then we are working with Boeing to understand all of the technical issues around the aircraft.

"We have every confidence that Boeing and the relevant authorities will ensure sufficient oversight is maintained and that corrective action will be taken if problems are identified."

BA said: "The safety and security of our customers will always be at the heart of our operation and all our business decisions.

"We remain committed to taking delivery of our first Boeing 787 later this year. We are confident that any safety concerns will be fully addressed by Boeing and the FAA as part of their recently announced review into the aircraft."

Seattle-based Boeing said: "The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.

"Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of the company to assist."

It went on: "We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the travelling public of the 787's safety and to return the airplanes to service.

"Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the operating schedules of our customers and the inconvenience to them and their passengers.