The worldwide grounding of Boeing’s Dreamliner plane has airlines scrambling to reschedule flights and find aircraft to get passengers to their destinations.The short-term financial loss may pale in comparison to a bigger problem for some airlines, which have played on the revolutionary nature of the Dreamliner in their strategies to attract customers.
They are losing millions of dollars per day, according to reports cited by Anne Banas, the executive editor of SmarterTravel.
Banas could not confirm those figures, but George Hobica, the founder of Airfarewatchdog, said they “sound about right.”
“They’re gonna have a financial hit,” Hobica told Business Insider, but not a major disruption to business.
Polish LOT Airlines has already said it plans to seek compensation from Boeing; other airlines are likely to follow suit.
Selling The Dreamliner
LOT, the only European carrier with a Dreamliner, uses the aircraft as part of its marketing. On a page on its site titled “Meet our Dreamliner,” it boasts the 787 is a “true breakthrough” that provides the airline “with an aeroplane truly ready for the 21st century.”
On its site, Japan Airlines writes the Dreamliner has “the highest level of safety, maintainability and ease of use.”
United has a similar page, with videos, photo galleries, a timeline, and an infographic, all about its six Dreamliners. Passengers on its 787 are shown a video detailing the plane’s new features, but there’s no fanfare on the flight itself.
Airlines that made the 787 a selling point — offering the chance to fly on the plane of the future — now have to rebook customers on less impressive (if safer) aircraft, and step away from their celebrations of the new plane.
It is likely to be weeks or months until the Dreamliners are flying again. That delay, and the bad press surrounding the Dreamliner, “takes the wind out of you” in terms of promoting the new aircraft, Banas says.
Polish Airlines LOT was especially unlucky: It had planned a party to celebrate the flight of its Dreamliner from Warsaw to Chicago, scheduled the night the FAA issued its emergency airworthiness directive. It canceled the event.
“We would not feel it’s appropriate,” LOT’s Frank Joost told ABC News.
Ultimately, the cancellation of a few parties will not cripple these airlines. They may “have egg on their face,” Hobica says, but a year from now, few will remember.
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