After months of preparations and two years of delays, Boeing 747-8F launch customer Cargolux renounced delivery of the first two freighters three days before the carrier was set to procure them. The September 16 announcement, which sent shockwaves throughout the airfreight industry, came amid plans for a three-day ceremony commemorating the launch at Boeing’s Everett, Wash.-based facilities.
Boeing planned numerous festivities, including hiring a mystery musical guest, to celebrate Cargolux’s scheduled September 19 acquisition and subsequent 747-8 delivery on September 21.
It was a party put on hold, however. Citing “unresolved contractual issues,” the Luxembourg-based freight carrier pulled out of the deal after board members expressed concern about the procurement. Industry rumblings suggest that an issue with the 747-8’s engine was to blame.
Other reports indicate that officials from Qatar Airways, which took 35-percent ownership of Cargolux in June, disagreed with contractual terms. Either way, Cargoux’s self-professed “rejection” of the first two of 13 747-8s it ordered from Boeing has industry insiders talking.
To Boeing Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth, it was a definite, yet surmountable, setback. “While this is disappointing to all of us here at Boeing, we’re working with Cargolux to resolve the issues,” he wrote in his blog. “They’ve been an incredible partner going back a long way. Two decades ago, they became the first carrier worldwide to operate the 747-400 freighter. It’s only fitting that they became the launch customer of the new 747-8 freighter.”
Cargolux executives seem to be singing a different tune. In addition to suspending all financing, which was secured through JP Morgan, Cargolux officials have ordered company representatives stationed in Everett to leave Boeing’s premises. They also haven’t ruled out seeking other options.
“In the event that the issues cannot be resolved in a timely manner, Cargolux will source alternative capacity to fully meet customer demand and expectations ahead of the traditional high season,” a Cargolux spokesman stated.