WARSAW, Poland – Polish national airline LOT said its Boeing 787s, which had been grounded for months because of battery problems, will resume flying in June and that it will seek compensation from the U.S. plane-maker.
The world’s total fleet of 50 Boeing 787s has been grounded since Jan. 16 as Boeing and investigators tried to figure out why one aircraft battery caught fire and another smoldered, forcing an emergency landing. Both cases concerned aircraft owned by Japanese airlines.
Every 787 has two lithium-ion batteries. To solve the problem, Boeing is making changes to the battery design and is adding a steel enclosure that is to prevent any overheating that might occur from affecting the plane.
Sebastian Mikosz, LOT’s chief executive, told the PAP news agency that both of the carrier’s 787s will resume commercial flights to North America and China in early June, following repairs and test flights.
A third 787 that LOT is due to receive in May will have a new kind of battery and will also enter service in June. Two more 787s are to join LOT’s fleet this summer.
Heavily indebted LOT is Europe’s only airline to have 787s, also known as Dreamliners. Norwegian Air Shuttle has ordered some, but deliveries have been delayed.
LOT’s management had hoped that the modern and fuel-efficient plane would attract new business and improve financial results. Instead, the grounding has cost it money as it had to extend lease on its three 767s.
The airline will approach Boeing in mid-June about compensation, Mikosz told the PAP agency.