Qatar Airways grounds Boeing 787 fleet

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Qatar Airways has grounded its entire fleet of five Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft until further notice, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

It said it was following instructions from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority.

The FAA on Wednesday grounded Boeing’s newest commercial airliner, saying airlines would have to demonstrate that lithium-ion batteries were safe before the planes could resume flying. It

Airlines scrambled on Thursday to rearrange flights as Europe, Japan and India joined the United States in grounding Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner passenger jets while the battery-related problems are investigated.

The lightweight, mainly carbon-composite plane has been plagued by recent mishaps - including an emergency landing of an All Nippon Airways domestic flight on Wednesday after warning lights indicated a battery problem - raising concerns over its use of lithium-ion batteries.

Boeing has sold around 850 of the new planes, with 50 delivered to date. Around half of those have been in operation in Japan, but airlines in India, South America, Poland, Qatar and Ethiopia, as well as United Airlines in the United States, are also flying the aircraft, which has a list price of $207 million.

With most of that Dreamliner fleet now effectively out of action as engineers and regulators make urgent checks - primarily to the plane’s batteries and complex electronics systems - airlines are wrestling with gaps in their scheduling.

Credit rating agency Moody's said the 787 grounding was a negative credit development for Boeing, but ratings were not expected to be impacted for now. “This could pose new operating and financial pressures for Boeing, including further delay in delivery schedules and future order flow, as well as ongoing reputational risk,” noted Russell Solomon, Senior Vice President.

Barring a prolonged grounding or a severe crisis, aircraft industry sources say there was no immediate threat of plane cancellations.