In an embarrassment for Boeing, Cargolux has postponed the initial delivery of the 747-8F scheduled for Monday, resulting in a PR disaster for Boeing.  Rather than reporting the success of the 747-8 , the global media descending on Seattle will now report on the reasons for the delivery delays – the fact that the 747-8 remains overweight and doesn’t meet its performance targets.

While the aircraft was at the edge of the envelope as planned for ultra-long routes, requiring a small payload reduction, the final version of the aircraft is overweight and short on fuel performance.

Cargolux and Boeing only say there are unresolved contract issues, which for the moment we suspect if over compensation, and that the airline is not going to simply roll over and accept an aircraft that doesn’t meet its needs without either a commitment to correct the issues quickly and compensation for the reduction in payloads and impact on profitability.

With the recent acquisition of shares in Cargolux by Qatar Airways, the presence of Akbar Al-Baker on the Board means that a tough, no-nonsense negotiator has joined the team who is not afraid to take on the airframe manufacturers when upset with their actions.  Qatar has created negative headlines for Airbus, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and Bombardier over the last couple of years, and embarrassing Boeing into further concessions is certainly a part of the playbook.

This is certainly a slap in the face to Boeing, and an indication of how dissatisfied Cargolux, which launched the 747-400F and is a strong historic Boeing customer, must feel about the performance of the airplane.  An 11th hour delivery cancellation is a PR disaster.  But it could be worse — at least discussions are underway and and the orders remain deferred, rather than cancelled.

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