Tui Travel has no plans to cancel its order for 13 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
But the travel group is having to make contingency plans in case deliveries are delayed following trouble with batteries on 787s flown by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways
Chief executive Peter Long said: “Our view is that this is the right airplane for us and we do not intend to change our order for the aircraft.
“We wait to see that these short-term issues are resolved with the regulatory authorities … but we don’t have visibility around how long that will take.”
He spoke ahead of the US Federal Aviation Administration granting Boeing the go-ahead to carry out 787 test flights.
Tui hopes to introduce the aircraft in May and plans to operate the aircraft on long-haul routes from Manchester, Gatwick, Glasgow and East Midlands to destinations including Florida, Mexico, Barbados, Cuba, Kenya and Thailand.
Long said: “Our priority is running our own programme and we will have to determine whether this is going to happen in May. We are building contingency plans because we have to.”
Regulators around the world grounded the new generation 787 in mid-January after a battery fire in Boston and a second incident involving a battery on a flight in Japan.
The FAA said the test flights will help collect data about battery performance “while the aircraft is airborne”.
A Boeing spokesman said the information will “support the continuing investigations into the cause of the recent 787 battery incidents”.
“We are confident that the 787 is safe to operate for this flight test activity,” he added.
The FAA said it had asked Boeing to conduct extensive pre-flight testing and inspections and that the flights would be conducted “in defined airspace over unpopulated areas”.
But the US National Transportation Safety Board said tests carried out by Boeing on Dreamliner batteries, when they were first certified, missed the high risk of fire.
The tests underestimated the frequency of “smoke events” in the lithium ion batteries.
NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said that Boeing’s safety checks suggested that a smoke event would occur less than once every 10 million flight hours.
However, 787s have only clocked up 100,000 hours of flight-time since entering commercial services, and have experienced two battery fires.
Hersman said that “the failure rate was higher than predicted as part of the certification process and the possibility that a short circuit in a single cell could propagate to adjacent cells and result in smoke and fire must be reconsidered”.
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