LOT Polish Launches Court Proceedings Against Boeing

After long-running talks failed to reach a settlement, LOT Polish Airlines is suing Boeing over losses incurred from the Boeing 737 MAX grounding. The airline has launched legal action in Seattle this week and is seeking approximately US$253 million in compensation.

LOT Polish Airlines is suing Boeing over losses resulting from the 737 MAX grounding. Photo: Boeing

Negotiations between LOT Polish Airlines & Boeing fail

According to a report in Reuters, the lawsuit followed months of failed negotiations. LOT Polish has had ongoing issues with Boeing regarding the 737 MAX grounding and problems with their 787 Dreamliners.

The airline has five 737 MAXs in service and a further ten due. Speaking to media recently, LOT Polish CEO Rafał Milczarski said;

“We are conducting and have conducted talks with Boeing about the issue. So far, these talks have not resulted in an outcome we expected, so we will be using all available solutions to obtain compensation.

“I think we will find a solution. We will not let go, and we cannot let go of anything that Boeing owes us.”

LOT Polish Airlines CEO Rafał Milczarski. Photo: LOT Polish Airlines

Ongoing frustration for LOT Polish

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft worldwide were grounded in March 2019 following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. LOT Polish says it had to lease substitute aircraft to fill the gaps in schedules caused by the grounding, significantly adding to the airline’s operational costs.

While some airlines have received compensation from Boeing because of the MAX’s grounding, LOT Polish Airlines did not. The US planemaker relied on a clause in its leasing contract with LOT Polish that rules out compensation due to technical problems.

LOT Polish has repeatedly voiced its frustration with Boeing and its unwillingness to pay compensation. Last month, Rafał Milczarski said the airline was considering suing Boeing. On Tuesday, LOT Polish spokesman Krzysztof Moczulski confirmed launching legal action.

But it is not only a lawsuit Milczarski was threatening. He said he was open to defecting to European plane builder Airbus and becoming an all-Airbus airline. To date, LOT Polish has been one of the few European airlines not flying Airbus aircraft.

Rafał Milczarski has set a 2030 deadline for unifying LOT’s fleet. Presently the airline flies a mixture of Boeing and Embraer aircraft. Swapping out factory fresh Boeings for Airbus planes by 2030 isn’t realistic, but the threat does demonstrate the extent of Milczarski’s displeasure with Boeing.

LOT Polish Airlines is seeking approximately US$253 million in compensation from Boeing. Photo: M Kwasowski/Lot Polish Airlines

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Boeing’s Dreamliners also a problem for LOT Polish Airlines

Underscoring the airline’s dissatisfaction with the US planemaker were long-running problems with 787 Dreamliner engines that saw some of LOT’s Dreamliners grounded and delayed some route launches.

In 2019, three LOT Polish Dreamliners were grounded after the Rolls-Royce engines were removed for repairs. At the time, the airline leased an Airbus A330 and Boeing 767 from other operators to plug holes in the schedules.

A series of problems with the Dreamliners, including long-running issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, have been a rolling problem for Boeing and 787 operators. But the saga largely escaped close media scrutiny owing to the higher profile MAX grounding.

Most countries have now allowed the MAX to resume flying, and Boeing’s order book is filling up again. But LOT Polish is not the only airline to have sought compensation from Boeing as reverberations from the grounding continue.

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