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Qantas says Dreamliner delivery delayed

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Australian flag carrier Qantas said Thursday that the delivery of its first Boeing's 787 Dreamliner may be delayed by "a couple of months" but reiterated its backing for the troubled aircraft.

Qantas International chief executive Simon Hickey told reporters in Singapore that the first of 14 Dreamliners ordered by Qantas is now expected to be delivered "sometime after August" due to battery problems.

Asked how long after August -- the month of delivery previously mentioned by Qantas -- Hickey said: "It wouldn't be more than a couple of months."

The Dreamliners were grounded globally on January 16 after a series of overheating problems with the cutting-edge plane's lithium-ion battery system.

"I think the aircraft is a phenomenal aircraft," Hickey told reporters after launching a new Qantas lounge at Singapore's Changi Airport.

"What it does is provide the economics of a jumbo with a much more number of seats which is fantastic. So you can get either frequency or distribution strength by using an aircraft such as the 787," he said.

"We're still very committed to the 787."

In addition to the 14 B787-8 planes on order, Qantas has retained purchase rights for 50 of the B787-9 variant, he said.

The Dreamliners were grounded after a battery caught fire in a parked Japan Airlines 787 at Boston's Logan Airport and battery smoke forced an emergency landing of an All Nippon Airways 787 in Japan.

On March 12, the US Federal Aviation Administration approved Boeing's plan for testing the batteries as the first step toward the plane's return to flight.

Hickey said the problems with the Dreamliner batteries were part of "teething issues with any new aircraft that has ever been available to put in the air".

"I still think it's a fantastic aircraft," he added.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130411/qantas-says-dreamliner-delivery-delayed