Gulf carrier follows those in US, Europe, India, Japan in grounding Boeing jet over safety fears
Qatar Airways has grounded its fleet of 787 Dreamliners, hours after regulators in India, Japan, Europe and the United States temporarily grounded the aircraft amid safety concerns.
The Doha-based airline currently operates five of the Dreamliner jets. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “In light of recent events surrounding the Boeing 787 Dreamliner worldwide, we are actively working with Boeing and the regulators to restore full customer confidence in the 787.
"Qatar Airways will resume 787 operations when we are clear that the aircraft meets the full requirements of the Airworthiness Directive and our standards which assure the safety of our passengers and crew at all times."
The carrier’s decision follows shortly after a second incident involving battery failure caused one of the Dreamliner jets to make an emergency landing.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Wednesday it would temporarily ground the jet and said airlines would have to demonstrate the lithium ion batteries were safe before they could resume flying.
Boeing Middle East said it is working hard to resolve the issue with regulators. “We are working with our regulatory authorities and clearly we want to resolve this,” Jeff Johnson, president of Boeing Middle East told Arabian Business.
“It will be a great airplane but we are going to have to work through these issues with all of the authorities,” he added.
Authorities in Japan said the grounding was for an indefinite period while India aviation regulator said it was unclear when the aircraft would be back in service. The European Aviation Safety Agency said Europe would follow the US grounding order.
The aircraft has experienced several mishaps over the last week, including an electrical fire that caused severe damage to a plane. Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines grounded their fleet of Boeing 787s on Wednesday after one of the passenger jets had to make an emergency landing.
Boeing’s glitches are unlikely to affect dampen demand for the aircraft, said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research. “The 787 already has a very strong order book and I don't see demand dampening because of this issue.
“The 747 was grounded in its early days because of issues but today it remains a global icon. These glitches, however painful for Boeing, will ultimately make the 787 a far more robust and reliable airplane,” he added.
Qatar Airways, one of the largest customers of the Dreamliner in the Middle East with an order for up to 60 of the aircraft, has previously played down safety concerns, insisting the jet is experiencing “teething problems”.
The Doha-based airline, which currently has a fleet of five 787 planes, has 30 firm orders plus an option on acquiring 30 more.
Royal Jordanian, which has seven 787s on order due for delivery in 2014, declined to comment when contacted by Arabian Business.