Etihad says Dreamliner issues will be resolved

Abu Dhabi carrier says expects to complete due diligence on Jet Airways stake next week

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has voiced confidence in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, despite regulators grounding the planes due to concerns over the lithium batteries it uses.

The airline, which has 41 Dreamliners on order and options for an additional 25 aircraft, will not cancel any orders, CEO and president James Hogan told reporters Sunday.

“It’s a great aircraft. It is not unusual for new aircraft entering service to encounter problems. It happened with the 787 but I’ve no doubt that the issues in regard to the aircraft will be resolved. We have every confidence in Boeing to find a resolution,” said Hogan.

Asked if the airline would cancel orders, he answered: “Not at all.”

Boeing’s most advanced aircraft was grounded indefinitely last month following unsolved battery problems, which caused a fire on a Japan Airlines plane in Boston. 

Etihad Airways, which has expanded globally through stake purchases in the likes of airberlin and Virgin Australia, expects to complete due diligence on a deal for a stake in India's Jet Airways by next week, said Hogan.

“We are doing our due diligence in the next week. We will present it to our board and take it from there,” said Hogan.

“We want to understand the new rules under the foreign direct investment scheme [and] we also we wanted to understand the issues that have impacted Indian aviation.”

If the deal goes ahead Etihad would be the first foreign airline to purchase a stake in an Indian carrier after authorities in the country relaxed overseas ownership rules in September last year.  

Hogan declined to give details of a possible deal but a government source told Reuters last month that the Abu Dhabi-based carrier is in talks to purchase a 24 percent stake for up US$330m.

Etihad on Sunday said its full-year net profits for 2012 increased 200 percent to US$42m as it carried more passengers and pushed ahead with strategic alliances with other international carriers.

Etihad said revenue increased 17 percent to US$4.8bn while passengers rose 23 percent to 10.3m.

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