Delivery of 787 could be near Decision on deal reportedly imminent

Four future Air India 787 Dreamliners sit in a row on the flight line of Boeing’s North Charleston campus.

In a cloudy holding pattern for weeks, Boeing South Carolina’s first Dreamliner delivery, to Air India, could be coming back into view.

The historic handover was supposed to happen in June, but the Indian government, which owns the airline, had yet to sign off on the final payment. The sticking point has been Boeing’s compensation package for more than three years of delivery delays.

That final government approval still hasn’t happened, but according to published reports, Indian Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said this week that a decision from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs is imminent.

If the cabinet approves the deal, deliveries would presumably follow in short order.

An Indian publication’s report from Monday quoted Singh as saying the CCEA would take up the matter “very soon.” According to a Reuters report Tuesday, Singh said the cabinet was likely to clear the compensation package in 15 days.

That’s encouraging news, to be sure, but Singh has made predictions before that have not come to pass. After Boeing and Air India agreed on the compensation package last month, Singh said the airline would take delivery of three Dreamliners in June.

Asked about the Reuters report, a Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman confirmed that the three Dreamliners sitting on the North Charleston flight line — one made locally, two flown in from Washington earlier this month — are good to go. But when they will leave remains uncertain.

“Air India’s 787s are ready for delivery and we are looking forward to delivering the airplane soon, but we don’t discuss details of our delivery plans and defer to our customers to provide additional details,” Candy Eslinger, the spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

An Air India spokesman did not respond to a message.

Another Dreamliner rolled out of the North Charleston factory 21/2weeks ago and sits along the flight line with the three finished jets.

Boeing South Carolina expects to deliver its first four locally made planes to Air India by the end of this year.