The decision by Boeing ( BA) to again delay its 787 jetliner is starting to have repurcussions throughout the industry. Airlines are changing their plans. Standard & Poor's has lowered its outlook for Boeing's suppliers. Leasing companies can notch up the value of their aircraft. And sole competitor Airbus is collecting new orders. Boeing said Wednesday that the first 787 delivery, once scheduled for May 2008, is now planned for early 2009. The company backed away from its plan to deliver 109 aircraft next year, but would not specify a new delivery schedule. Boeing shares traded Friday at $78.18 and are down about 4% for the week. Continental ( CAL), one of two U.S. customers for the 787, said Thursday that it will "have some challenges" as a result of the move. "We have three planes coming in 2009, and we are adding China in the spring of 2009," said CEO Larry Kellner on an earnings conference call. "That will make for a tough summer for us in 2009
because we are going to have to take the planes to fly China off something else." One customer, Australia's Qantas, has said it will seek damages from Boeing. Meanwhile, launch customer All Nippon Airways called the delay "deeply regrettable," while Northwest ( NWA) said it is "very disappointed." It's not just airline hopes that are being dashed. Standard & Poor's revised its outlook to negative for two Boeing suppliers, Vought Aircraft Industries and Spirit Aerosystems ( SPR). Privately held Vought manufactures the rear fuselage at a plant near Charleston, S.C, while Spirit makes the nose and forward fuselage. "The delays will adversely affect the working capital and cash flow of most suppliers," wrote S&P analyst Roman Szuper, in a report. "Boeing is in discussions with its suppliers regarding changes to the contracts, which in many cases specified that the vendors would get paid for their shipments only when the 787 is certified and delivered to the first customer." In the case of Spirit, which relies on Boeing for 90% of its sales, "the outlook revision reflects the potential for materially reduced operating cash flow in 2008," Szuper wrote. As for highly leveraged Vought, he wrote, the revision "reflects heightened liquidity concerns." Of corse, the world is hungry for aircraft, and there are beneficiaries from a delay in providing them. For aircraft-leasing companies, "the demand for aircraft is strong anyway, but this means the pent-up demand for midsized widebody aircraft has increased an extra notch," said John McMahon, CEO of Genesis Lease ( GLS), in an interview. It's too early to evaluate the delays' impact because Boeing offered little guidance, McMahon says. "What Boeing did unintentionally was to add another layer of frustration for a frustrated customer base," he says. "All they really know is that there is a delay of indefinite duration. "Generally speaking, in the leasing environment, commitments are five to 10 years, and I don't see anybody entering into a five-or-10-year commitment at this time," McMahon adds. "But airlines will hold on a bit longer to aircraft they were planning to move out." Understandably, Airbus isn't expressing any particular glee in the delays, which haven't yet matched the postponement in the A350 and the A380 programs. However, Airbus does see improved sales of its A350 and A330. The long-delayed A350 is on track for first delivery in 2013. Orders are strong, says Airbus spokesman Clay McConnell, because "the A350 comes out after the 787, and when you have a newer airplane, it should be a better airplane." As for the A330, Airbus has 198 orders, with the earliest availability in 2013. "The 330 is the airplane that comes closest in mission to the 787," McConnell said. "We sold a boatload of them this year." In November, Hawaiian ( HA) signed agreements for 12 Airbus planes, including six A330s and six A350s. The A350s would arrive in 2017, but the carrier said it may arrange to lease A330s as early as 2009.