Travel chaos warning as Boeing safety crisis leads to plane shortage

The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, July 13, 2021.
The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, July 13, 2021. Copyright Richard Drew/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Richard Drew/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved
By Indrabati Lahiri
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Boeing’s aircraft delivery delays and safety issues could mean that several airlines might have to cancel flights or push back their summer schedules as many are struggling to secure enough aircraft for the peak season.

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Holidaymakers may face disruption to their summer getaway plans because of possible flight cancellations. This is mainly because of the safety incidents at Boeing earlier this year which have made it much more difficult for several airlines to procure enough aircraft for the Summer season. Some may be faced with no other choice than to cancel some flights or offer a reduced service on some routes.

Back in January this year, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft saw a mid-cabin exit door panel blow out in mid-air, just a few minutes after take-off. This incident sparked a flurry of investigations, including one by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US.

Due to this, Boeing has faced a backlog of orders, leading to the company missing several delivery deadlines and having to extend others. Naturally, this has also resulted in a number of disgruntled customers including the budget airline Ryanair.

Adding to an already stretched supply chain, aircraft manufacturer Pratt & Whitney have recently recalled hundreds of Airbus engines, after identifying a rare manufacturing issue. This is mainly expected to affect short-haul planes and could mean that many airlines with aircraft using this engine could be grounded for an extended period, in the next few years.

Dublin-based Avia Solutions Group, the biggest aircraft leasing company globally has already raised the alarm about the increased risk of cancellations in the coming few months, as well as airlines slashing their schedules.

This in turn, is also expected to lead to several flights to popular summer destinations such as Mallorca, Dalaman, Corfu, Lanzarote and Nice, amongst others, seeing surging prices, potentially even more than £1,000 per person.

Gediminas Ziemelis, chairman of Avia Solutions Group, which leases passenger and cargo aircraft to a variety of airlines worldwide said, “We’re seeing what I would call super-demand. The last time there was anything like this was when traffic rebounded after 9/11.

“Airlines are desperate for aircraft because of the production problems but the well is dry. I think in this dislocated system that cancellations are quite possible.”

Ryanair dubs Boeing management “headless chickens”

Although Boeing’s latest January safety issue has significantly complicated matters, the company was facing ongoing delivery issues as far back as 2022. Among airlines affected, Ryanair has been particularly critical of the delays at Boeing. 

Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair said back in 2022, as reported by CNN, “At the moment, we think Boeing management is running around like headless chickens, not able to sell aircraft, and then even the aircraft they deliver, they’re not able to deliver them on time.

“I can understand why there may be various challenges manufacturing new aircraft, but aircraft that you built and made two years ago that all you had to do was put petrol in them and fly them to Dublin, really, I don’t understand why you’re taking two to three month delays on that.”

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