Cargolux stunned Boeing and the air cargo industry this weekend when the airline announced it would not accept delivery of the first of two 747-8 freighters over what the carrier called “unresolved contractual issues” with the manufacturer.
Cargolux, Europe’s largest all-cargo carrier, was due to take delivery of the first aircraft on Monday and a second 747-8 on Wednesday, followed by a aircraft in October. A further four aircraft are due to be delivered through 2012.
“In the event that the issues cannot be resolved in a timely manner,” the Luxembourg-based airline said in a terse statement, “Cargolux will source alternative capacity to fully meet customer demand and expectations ahead of the traditional high season.”
Neither side has commented on the nature of the contractual dispute, but industry officials believe it centers on performance guarantees over the fuel burn of the aircraft’s General Electric engines.
Boeing has taken 78 orders for the 747-8F, which has a list price of $319.3 million. Delivery of the aircraft has been delayed by more than a year due to production and design problems.
Cargolux operates 14 747-400 freighters and a leased 747-200 freighter. The airline will gain more in 2012 when Qatar Airways, which acquired a 35 percent stake in Cargolux in June, plans to start converting up to 20 Airbus A330 passenger jets into freighters.
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