Friday, July 24, 2009

Air India awaits Boeing Dreamliner's takeoff

Boeing Co. has reported better-than-expected second-quarter results but failed to answer when will its troubled 787 Dreamliner, 27 of which have been ordered by Air India, fly for the first time.

Boeing has determined how to fix a 787 wing-body problem, discovered in late May, but it still doesn't know how long the modifications will take, according to Chairman and Chief Executive Jim McNerney cited by the Wall Street Journal.

Problems on the Dreamliner, which was Boeing's hottest-selling commercial aircraft ever, already have pushed the first deliveries of the plane back nearly two years and cost the company millions of dollars in penalties and concessions to customers.

During its earnings conference call, analysts pressed McNerney and Chief Financial Officer James Bell for additional details on the programme's timetable and the cost impact on the programme and the company at large, the Journal reported.

"The delays are obviously putting pressure on the programme's profitability," said Bell. So far, the company has indicated the programme has been profitable, though analysts are looking for signs that Boeing could take a charge in the coming quarters once it updates cost estimates, the leading US financial daily said.

The company left intact its projection for 2009 earnings to come in at $4.70 to $5 a share but said that could change based on an updated analysis of the 787's costs.

Many airlines have planned their business models around the 787, which promises fuel-efficiency and maintenance-cost savings. The lack of a firm delivery timetable has thrown off their ability to plan everything from future routes to when they retire aging aircraft.

For the second quarter, Boeing reported net income of $998 million, or $1.41 a share, up 17 percent from $852 million, or $1.16 a share, a year earlier.

That beat analysts' expectations of $1.21 a share. The prior-year results included 22 cents a share in charges. Revenue was up 1.1 percent to $17.15 billion. Revenue at the company's Integrated Defence Systems Unit rose 9 percent to $8.7 billion.

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