787. Courtesy, Boeing

Boeing has delayed the delivery of China Southern Airlines' (CZ) first 787 from December until July 2012, a knowledgeable source told ATW.

CZ's order for 10 787s was placed in 2005 with deliveries originally scheduled to begin in 2008 (ATW Daily News, Sept. 1, 2005).

At last year's Zhuhai Air Show, Boeing said it would deliver CZ's first 787 in December. "But Boeing keeps delaying the delivery date , which has exerted a negative impact on our flight arrangements, technical training and grabbing more market share," CZ CFO Xu Jiebo said, noting the carrier is "quite concerned about the continuous delays of the Boeing 787 and thus we won't rule out the possibility of canceling Boeing 787 orders."

The source, however, told ATW that it is unlikely the carrier will cancel the order given that its first 787 is already on Boeing's production line.

China Eastern Airlines (MU) announced Monday it was canceling its order for 24 787s and instead ordering 15 Airbus A330s owing to continuous delays and a weakening economy (ATW Daily News, Oct. 18).

A Boeing spokesperson told ATW Wednesday there have been "ebbs and flows" in the 787 program's order book: "There have been orders and commitments announced this year—Air France KLM is one example. And we have seen some cancellations as customers evolve their business/fleet plans. For example, China Eastern cited operational considerations in their disclosure on Monday."

CZ has been committed to international expansion owing in part to domestic competition with high speed rail. To meet demand, Xu pointed out the carrier must choose between the A330 or 777 to operate routes on which it had planned to use 787s, such as its new Guangzhou (CAN)-London Heathrow route scheduled to launch in March 2012. In the coming months, the carrier plans to open more international routes, including Beijing (PEK)-CAN-Brisbane, PEK-CAN-Perth and PEK-Urumqi-Istanbul.