By W.J. Hennigan
8:10 AM AKST, February 6, 2013
Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways said the grounding of Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner jet has affected more than 100,000 passengers and resulted in the cancellation of more than 1,200 flights.
The airline, which has 17 of the new planes, made the disclosure late Tuesday.
All Nippon’s admission provides a snapshot into how business has been disturbed for airlines that fly 787s. The aircraft has been grounded around the world since Jan. 16 after a series of incidents and high-profile fires, involving its onboard electrical systems and lithium-ion batteries.
All Nippon “has decided to extend the suspension of our Boeing 787 aircraft operation until Thursday, Feb. 28,” the company said. ”As a result, there will continue to be significant changes in our flight operations until at least Feb. 28.”
The suspension could go beyond that date if investigators don’t get to the root of the problem.
In all, All Nippon estimates there will be 1,206 flight cancellations and 100,720 passengers affected by the end of the month because of the grounding.
Boeing has delivered 50 787s to eight airlines worldwide. Six are owned by United Airlines -- the only U.S. carrier that currently has 787s in its fleet.
On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for the investigation in the U.S., provided an update on the investigation into a 787 fire at a Boston airport Jan. 7. NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman told reporters completion of the investigation is "probably weeks away," according to a Reuters report.
"I would not want to categorically say that these batteries are not safe,” she said. “Any new technology, any new design, there are going to be some inherent risks. The important thing is to mitigate them."
Meanwhile, Boeing said Monday it has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to let it begin in-flight testing on the 787. The FAA is reportedly looking into Boeing’s request, but would not comment.