JAL mulls 767 retention as 787 grounding continues

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Japan Airlines (JAL) could delay the retirement of two Boeing 767 aircraft in order to cope with the impact of the grounding of 787s on its fleet.

The two aircraft were scheduled to be retired between April 2013 and March 2014, says a spokeswoman.

JAL has implemented plans to use replacement aircraft on routes serviced by the 787s until 28 February. However, delaying the retirement of its 767s could indicate that the airline is preparing for a longer disruption to its 787 operations.

"Adjustments to flight operations on and after 1 March 2013 will be announced as soon as it has been decided," says JAL.

When asked if there will be changes to the airline's 787 induction plans, the spokeswoman says: "JAL is not currently considering changing our orders."

JAL has a fleet of seven 787-8s, and another 18 -8s and 20 787-9s on order.

On 4 February, All Nippon Airways (ANA) said it is in talks with Boeing to speed up the delivery of three 777 aircraft as its fleet of 17 787s remain grounded. The 777s were initially scheduled to be delivered between April 2013 and March 2014.

The carrier is also considering to postpone the retirement of an Airbus A320 narrowbody that was scheduled for March.

Both ANA and JAL, which together own about half of the world's 787 fleet, have had to cancel hundreds of flights and deploy other aircraft on routes served using the 787.

Japan's transport ministry ordered the grounding of the Japanese 787 fleet on 17 January, following a directive issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration after an ANA 787 had to make an emergency landing because of a battery-related problem.

The 787s have been grounded for three weeks, but investigations into the cause of the battery failures do not appear to have yielded any results.

The National Transportation Safety Board said on 6 February that the ongoing probe of the battery failures is still "weeks" away from determining a root cause.

Boeing has also asked the US FAA to allow 787 test flights, but the agency has not announced its decision.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Boeing has proposed a battery redesign as an interim solution for airlines, while the investigation of the root cause of the failures by the US and Japanese authorities continues.