Boeing profit rises 17%, but first Dreamliner flight up in the air

Boeing ba on Wednesday reported a profit in the second quarter but refused to say when its much-anticipated 787 Dreamliner would finally fly.

The Chicago-based aerospace giant earned $998 million, or $1.41 a share, a 17% increase over the same period last year. It came largely from defense work and ongoing deliveries of new commercial jets ordered before the economy went sour.

But the financial concerns airlines are reporting this week don't bode well for Boeing's long-term outlook, as carriers try to conserve cash and put new plane orders on hold.

Delta dal, the world's largest airline, reported a loss of $257 million, or 31 cents a share. Its loss was $199 million when not counting $58 million in costs related to its merger with Northwest Airlines. Executives don't foresee a rebound soon.

"We do not expect to be profitable this year," said Richard Anderson, Delta's CEO. "We will continue to do what it takes to adapt our business to the weak revenue environment."

Discounter AirTran Airways aai fared better. AirTran's parent company earned a higher-than-expected $78.4 million, or 56 cents a share.

CEO Bob Fornaro said the key was AirTran's decision last summer to halt its aggressive growth plan when oil prices soared above $147 a barrel.

Meanwhile, Boeing said it would announce in the third quarter when the 787 jetliner would take flight.

The cutting-edge aircraft, billed as the world's first jetliner made mostly of composite materials, missed a late-June deadline for its first flight after tests uncovered a structural failure where the wing meets the fuselage.

Boeing Chairman Jim McNerney said engineers haven't figured out how to make that fix in already existing copies of the 787. Only when the fixes are done and fully tested can the program be put back on track, he said.