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Boeing says future United 787s will arrive on time

A Boeing 787 sits on the assembly line at the company's operations in Everett, Washington, October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Clark
A Boeing 787 sits on the assembly line at the company's operations in Everett, Washington, October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Clark

(Reuters) - Boeing said it expects to deliver future 787 Dreamliner jets to United Airlines on schedule, after the airline said Thursday it that it was concerned future deliveries could be delayed.

United said Thursday that it had taken delivery of the second of five of the jets due to arrive this year from Boeing. But delivery of the second jet was delayed several days, prompting United to say its future deliveries could also be delayed.

United is the first U.S. airline to put into commercial service the new carbon-composite jet, which carries a list price of $206 million. The second jet was due to be delivered last week, but United said it received it on Wednesday.

"We believe this year's subsequent 787 deliveries could be delayed as well," Christen David, director of corporate communications for United said.

But late Thursday, Boeing said that it expects to deliver all of United's subsequent planes due this year on time.

"We have no indication that the follow-on planes will be late," said Tim Bader, a Boeing spokesman. "We fully anticipate that delivery will be in the contracted time frame."

Bader said there was not one specific issue with the plane that caused the delay and declined to elaborate. He also said the issues with United would not affect delivery of 787s to other customers.

David said the second 787 plane would not be flown on a regular schedule in the short term.

"We will fly it around our domestic system over the next few weeks on an ad-hoc basis. The second aircraft is not regularly scheduled for a few more weeks, but will operate as a spare in the meantime."

United said any delivery delay of subsequent jets would not affect its operations. "Since we have spare aircraft, we have the flexibility to backfill any 787s we planned to use with these aircraft. We are hopeful that we will still receive three more 787s this year."

The 787 Dreamliner, a wide-body jet, seats 219 passengers in United's configuration, and is billed as Boeing's most fuel-efficient jet. It was initially scheduled to enter service in May 2008, but delays pushed its first flight back to December 2009 and it entered service on October 26, 2011, with launch customer All Nippon Airways <9202.T>.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; editing by Carol Bishopric and M.D. Golan)

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