Aeromexico stands by 787

Mexico City
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Aeromexico has reaffirmed its faith in the Boeing 787 at the unveiling of its first of the type, despite several high profile incidents involving the 787 so far this year.

The SkyTeam carrier took delivery of the first of up to 19 787s on 15 August, and showed off the aircraft in a ceremony at its facilities in Mexico City today.

"We feel very, very good about the reliability of the aircraft," Aeromexico chief executive Andres Conesa tells Flightglobal. "We've been monitoring the track record of the planes already flying today, and we know the experience has been excellent in terms of performance and customer feedback."

Aeromexico is the second Latin American carrier after LATAM to receive the 787 and the third 787 operator in the Americas. Not being the first operator has helped Aeromexico be "prepared for what will arise", says Conesa.

The 787 was grounded earlier this year by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following problems associated with the aircraft's lithium-ion batteries. The FAA move prompted a worldwide grounding of the type.

The aircraft type came under the spotlight again in July when a fire broke out on board a parked Ethiopian Airlines 787-8 at London Heathrow, which led to airworthiness directives issued by regulators for operators to inspect the Honeywell emergency locator transmitters on their aircraft.

"When you have such new technology, it's natural to expect things will happen," Conesa says. While he acknowledges that the reliability rate of the 787 is "slightly lower" compared to aircraft types that have been in service for longer, Conesa says the airline's experience with the 787 has been "so far so good".

"We are prepared and ready and we will operate this plane the way we operate the rest of our fleet, with the highest safety standards."

Aeromexico will first operate the 787 on domestic flights from Mexico City to Tijuana and Monterrey in September, following a certification process in the Latin American country.

The aircraft type will then be used to launch the airline's inaugural Mexico City-Tokyo Narita service on 14 October. Following this, it will be deployed on its service to New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) in October and Paris in November. In April 2014, Aeromexico will operate the 787 to London Heathrow and then Buenos Aires in May.

Aeromexico has orders for nine 787-8s and six 787-9s, as well as options for another four 787-9s. Its 787-8s are configured with 32 lie-flat seats in business class and 180 seats in economy class.

Later this year, Aeromexico will take delivery of another two 787-8s for a total of three deliveries in 2013. Conesa said in July he expected these two deliveries in mid-September.

If Aeromexico takes all its 787-9 options, it will receive all 19 aircraft from now through 2019. According to its fleet plan, it will take delivery of three aircraft this year, two in 2014, three in 2015, three in 2016 and the remaining eight in 2017 to 2019.