LOT Polish Airlines has delayed the start of its flights between Warsaw and Beijing Daxing by three months. The service, due to commence on 28th October 2019, has been pushed back to 15th January 2020. LOT Polish Airlines attributes the reason to problems with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines on its Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which were scheduled to operate the services to China.
As reported in Aeronews yesterday, LOT Polish already flies thrice weekly to Beijing’s Capital Airport (PEK) but was keen to switch over to the newer and much swankier Daxing Airport. Plus LOT Polish Airlines would have had the kudos of being one of the first European carriers to use Daxing. But with three Boeing 787s grounded owing to engine issues, LOT Polish Airlines does not have the capacity to begin the flights to Daxing in October.
LOT Polish has had long-running problems with grounded Boeing 787s
LOT Polish Airlines has 14 Boeing 787s in its fleet. Of the 14 Boeing 787s, eight are Boeing 787-8s and six are Boeing 787-9s. They are expecting another 787-9 later this month and two more in 2020. But the immediate problem is three of its existing Boeing 787s are grounded with engine issues. Or, more to the point, right now they don’t have engines attached to the airframes.
As one respondent to the report on Aeronows succinctly put it:
“Hardly surprising considering 3 frames continue to sit engines less on the tarmac…”
The three grounded aircraft include two Boeing 787-8s, SP-LRB and SP-LRE, and one Boeing 787-9, SP-LSE. A LOT Polish Airlines spokesperson has been quoted in Pasazer.com as saying;
“Due to the necessary repair of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, currently 3 of 14 B787 are excluded from the operation, those with registration numbers: SP-LSE, SP-LRB, SP-LRE.”
LOT Polish Airlines has had ongoing problems with grounded Boeing 787s. SP-LRB and SP-LRE have been grounded for many months. There was a third Boeing 787 grounded but that returned to service three months ago, leaving LOT Polish Airlines with two grounded 787s. But now they are back to three grounded aircraft with SP-LSE joining its brothers engineless on the tarmac.
LOT Polish has been proactive in bringing in substitute leased aircraft to cover for the grounded Boeing 787s. They’ve just leased a Boeing 767-300ER from EuroAtlantic and an A330 from GetJet. But it appears this isn’t enough to patch the gaps in LOT Polish’s capacity. The airline has two A340s due to enter service in December 2019.
Rolls Royce slow to resolve engine issues
The problems with the engine blades on the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines have been a running sore for Rolls Royce, Boeing, and their customer airlines that have been impacted by groundings. The engine manufacturer has largely escaped widespread media scrutiny as the aviation industry continues to grapple with the more dramatic Boeing 737 MAX grounding. It has proved a lucky break for Rolls Royce because, arguably, their delayed response and inability to effectively resolve the engine problems should incur similar reputational damage that Boeing has suffered.
Rolls Royce hopes to get the number of grounded Boeing 787 aircraft into single digits by the end of 2019 – down from a high of 44 grounded aircraft. Rolls Royce made a loss of almost USD$1 billion in the first half of 2019. At the time, Chris Cholerton, President of Civil Aerospace at Rolls-Royce, said;
“We sincerely regret the operational impact to our customers, and we are working closely with them to minimize this. We deeply appreciate their continued support. We remain absolutely committed to eliminating these issues from the Trent 1000 fleet and providing the best powerplant for the Boeing 787.”
LOT Polish Airlines has been in an expansionary mood lately. It has talked about making Warsaw a European aviation hub and has stretched its wings with more long haul flights. Its ability to meet its strategic goals is constrained by the ongoing issues surrounding the Boeing 787 engines – delaying the Daxing flights is an example of this.
LOT Polish Airlines is just one of several carriers hoping Rolls Royce gets its engine problems sorted out sooner rather than later. Simple Flying has reached out to LOT Polish Airlines for a comment regarding their grounded Boeing 787s but has not received a response prior to publication.