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AIR INDIA GETS ITS FIRST DREAMLINER …

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing delivered its first 787 Dreamliner to Air India – although the plane that was received (belatedly) by the airline was assembled at a union facility in Everett, Washington, not at its non-union South Carolina plant.

It’s not yet clear when the first South Carolina-made Dreamliner will be delivered to a paying customer.

Also, before everybody starts kissing Boeing’s ass (something Palmetto politicians are adept at doing), let’s not forget that Air India has repeatedly availed itself of U.S. taxpayer-funded subsidies in an effort to gain an unfair competitive advantage over its American rivals.  And don’t fool yourself: Air India’s ability to purchase Boeing planes at reduced interest rates thanks to crony capitalist loans from the U.S. Export-Import Bank means fewer jobs for American companies in the long run – and higher prices for American air travelers.

Oh, and in addition to these federal handouts to Boeing customers … let’s not forget the estimated $900 million that South Carolina taxpayers shelled out to the company in 2009.

Will that investment pay off?  We’ll see … last month Boeing lost a major order for Dreamliners thanks to its chronic delivery delays.  And the company is going to have to hustle in the midst of a bad economy if it expects to turn a profit on the plane.

Originally scheduled for delivery in May of 2008, the Dreamliner has been beset by engineering and supply problems – including a recent engine failure that sparked a fire at the Charleston, S.C. International Airport.   These delays have been devastating for Boeing – which is now losing business thanks to its inability to deliver the planes in a timely fashion.  Australian airline Qantas, for example, was supposed to have nearly 30 Dreamliners in service by the end of 2011 but received none of the planes – prompting a cancellation of its order.

Boeing must sell 1,100 Dreamliners to turn a profit – which means it must fill all of its existing orders plus 276 additional planes.

Most of those planes are likely to be built at Boeing’s Washington facility – which  is where all of Boeing’s new 737 MAX planes will be built thanks to the “victory” the company won in its recent dispute with Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Nonetheless, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley continues to boast about her state building “big Mack Daddy planes” – while taking credit for the NLRB victory.

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