This coming spring, a sleek new Boeing aircraft, dubbed the Dreamliner, was supposed to take off from Detroit Metro-Wayne Airport, taking passengers to Shanghai in style. Now that plan has been put aside.

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that deliveries of the new Boeing 787 won’t start until 2010 at the earliest and Delta’s direct route to Shanghai has been postponed until June because of economic concerns.

Delta had no 787s on order, while Northwest had 18 orders. Delta hasn’t said anything about the orders and officials said that they can go on without them.

Ed Bastian, president and chief executive of Northwest, said that while he thinks that the 787 is a fine aircraft, he can’t make any comment until he knows whether the aircraft will perform as advertised.

Bastian also said that he has the 777LR, which has a greater range than the 787. In addition, Delta has the 747 and the Airbus A330 in the current fleet.

Delta is planning to buy several aircraft in 2009. They plan on purchasing six Boeing 777-200LRs, six 737-700s and eight Bombardier CRJ-900s.

Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott declined to comment on whether Delta plans on canceling Northwest’s order for the Dreamliner or whether it’s a good investment. The 787 costs between $146 million and $200 million.

Delta will reduce its domestic flight operations up to 10 percent and by as much as 5 percent in international flights where the Dreamliner would be most useful.

Bastian said that in a troubled economy, they plan on “playing it safe when it comes to aircraft purchases or managing its operations.”