American Airlines Shopping for New Dreamliner and 777 Business-Class Seats, Files Court Action Against Current Supplier

By Paul Riegler on 25 September 2015
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Business-class seats on an American 777-300

Business-class seats on an American 777-300

American Airlines said Thursday it will find a new supplier for business-class seats for some of its twin-aisle aircraft and went to court seeking damages from its current supplier.

Zodiac Aerospace has been the supplier of lie-flat business seats used on the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners as well as on recently reconfigured 777-200 airliners but has been slow in delivering them for installation on American’s aircraft, which last year delayed the start of service for American’s first two 787-8 Dreamliners from 2014 to 2015. American Airlines designed the seat Zodiac was producing but may look for a more off-the-shelf product as a replacement.

“American has started looking for a new vendor to supply Business Class seats for our B787-9 aircraft and the remainder of our B777-200 retrofit aircraft, “ said a spokesman for the airline, Laura Nedbal. “Zodiac has not been able to deliver new seats in a timely fashion according to the terms of its contract,” she added.

The airline said it “filed suit in Tarrant County, asking the court to award damages caused by Zodiac’s inability to deliver Business Class seats in a timely manner.”

“Delays to the Business Suite are unacceptable and breach our contract with Zodiac,” the airline said. The project is nearly a year behind schedule.

The delays have meant that the Fort Worth-based airline is now looking for a new supplier of seats for its yet-to-be delivered Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners as well as for some of its almost three dozen 777-200s that have yet to be reconfigured from three-class to two-class planes. The 777-200s still have angled lie-flat seats in business class that are considered uncomfortable and dated.

“Our Business Suite supplied by Zodiac is an excellent product with good reviews, but the seats are far behind schedule and continue to cause significant delays to our plans to improve the travel experience for our customers,” said Nedbal.

American expects to begin taking delivery of the larger 787-9 Dreamliner in 2016 and the result of the vendor switch means that it will come with an all-new business class product. The airline said it is “confident” that “selecting a new vendor now will provide enough time for our partners to install a new seat-type” on this aircraft. Zodiac will continue as the supplier for the 787-8 Dreamliner seats.

In a statement issued Friday, Zodiac said it was “in discussion with American Airlines to assess the possibility of a negotiated issue.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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