Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Boeing and Pakistan International Airlines reportedly have a deal for eight 787 Dreamliners

Boeing is close to selling eight Dreamliner 787s to Pakistan International Airways (PIA) after a high-level lobbying and sales campaign by Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner.

Boeing could begin delivering the wide-body jets in mid-2017, according to media and social media reports in Pakistan.

Azam Sehgal, the chairman of Pakistan International Airlines, let word of the deal slip during an interview with Tahir Imran, an Urdu-language aviation journalist in Islamabad who contributes to the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Urdu-language news service.

In a recent tweet, Imran said: "Breaking: PIA to get 8 @Boeing 787 Dreamliners with deliveries due from mid next year. The chairman just told me exclusively."

Worth at least $1.8 billion at list prices, the new aircraft order would help the airline double its fleet and launch direct service to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Imran later reported

Marc Birtel, an international spokesman for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle, declined to confirm or deny the Pakistan reports.

"Boeing does not comment publicly on customer discussions," Birtel said.

PIA also asked Boeing if the Dreamliner could fly the distance between Lahore/Karachi and Toronto, Canada's largest city and home to a large and affluent Pakistani community. Boeing confirmed the Dreamliner's fuel-efficient features could make that direct flight possible, the Pakistani media reports said.

News of a Boeing Dreamliner purchase by PIA comes after the airline recently announced plans to retire five older Airbus A310 aircraft following this year's Haaj pilgrimage to Mecca season.

Also in mid-August, PIA launched a new specially branded premium flying service between Lahore, Pakistan, and London. Business class travelers get limousine service in London for destinations within 25 miles from the airport as part of that service.

The Pakistan International Airlines deal comes two months after Conner privately wrote to Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif offering to exchange PIA's 2012 order for five 777-300ER jets for Dreamliners in a deal that "could help Pakistan's national airline 'restore' its brand and 'improve its attractiveness for privatization.'"

Conner's letter was leaked on a social media site in Pakistan and a copy was published by The Puget Sound Business Journal.

"Over the past three months, we have worked extensively with PIA to document the business case for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and we are convinced that the 787 can dramatically transform PIA's operations and help it restore profitability," Conner wrote to the Pakistani politician.

"Moreover, this solution also satisfies the interests of strategic investors, who will want to see a realistic, executable turnaround plan," Conner added in is letter to Sharif.

(Andrew Mcintosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

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