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Air India may opt for longer range Boeing 787 planes

At present, the carrier uses a mix of narrow body Airbus A320 and wide-body Boeing planes on international routes

Air India is considering acquisition of five Boeing 787-9 aircraft for flights to US and Canada.

At present Air India uses a mix of narrow body Airbus A320 and wide body Boeing planes on international routes. These include the Boeing 747-400s, Boeing 777s and Boeing 787-8 planes.

The 787-9 variant has a higher range and has 40 extra seats over the 787-8 type plane.

Air India signed a deal with Boeing in 2005 to acquire 68 planes including 27 787 planes. It has inducted 20 Boeing 787 planes and will be taking delivery of its 21st aircraft in June. Air India had taken a bridge loan to finance all the 787 plane inductions and later sold and leased back 11 of the 20 planes.

If the airline sticks to its original plan of inducting Boeing 787-8 planes deliveries would complete by mid-2016 while the 787-9 plane deliveries will commence some time in 2017. A Boeing 787-8 plane has a list price of $ 218 million (about Rs 1350 crore) while 787-9 has list price of $ 257 million (about Rs 1,590 crore).

Air India’s Boeing 787-8 planes have 256 seats (18 business plus 238 economy seats) and is flown to European and Asian routes. “We are in discussions with Boeing for the Boeing 787-9 planes. The aircraft has a longer range and we could look to use them on high density routes to Europe and US. The unit costs of operating this aircraft too would be lower than the 787-8 aircraft. We have loads of 75 percent on US routes and occupancy on Australia flights too is picking up,” said an Air India executive.

He added the increase in maintenance cost due to switch to 787-9 plane will be minimal.

A Boeing spokesperson said “We continue to talk with Air India about its fleet’s needs. We don’t however publically discuss the details of our conversations with our customers, including delivery timing or pricing.”

However aviation critics question the move to acquire Boeing 787-9 planes when the airline does not have a proper fleet utilisation plan in place. Also its record in utilising long haul planes has been below par. “The 787-9 is a good aircraft, but an efficient Dreamliner cannot save an inefficient Air India,” remarked Devesh Agarwal, editor of aviation blog Bangalore Aviation.

“About 30% of its Boeing 777 fleet is surplus, lying unused. What will it do with its 777 fleet after inducting the 787-9,” he asked.

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At present, the carrier uses a mix of narrow body Airbus A320 and wide-body Boeing planes on international routes

Air India is considering acquisition of five Boeing 787-9 aircraft for flights to US and Canada.At present Air India uses a mix of narrow body Airbus A320 and wide body Boeing planes on international routes. These include the Boeing 747-400s, Boeing 777s and Boeing 787-8 planes.The 787-9 variant has a higher range and has 40 extra seats over the 787-8 type plane. Air India signed a deal with Boeing in 2005 to acquire 68 planes including 27 787 planes. It has inducted 20 Boeing 787 planes and will be taking delivery of its 21st aircraft in June. Air India had taken a bridge loan to finance all the 787 plane inductions and later sold and leased back 11 of the 20 planes.If the airline sticks to its original plan of inducting Boeing 787-8 planes deliveries would complete by mid-2016 while the 787-9 plane deliveries will commence some time in 2017. A Boeing 787-8 plane has a list price of $ 218 million (about Rs 1350 crore) while 787-9 has list price of $ 257 million (about Rs 1590 …

Air India is considering acquisition of five Boeing 787-9 aircraft for flights to US and Canada.

At present Air India uses a mix of narrow body