Mumbai: Despite being plagued by recurring technical glitches, the national carrier Air India will complete acquisition of the 27 Dreamliners from Boeing before April, and will take delivery of the 23rd B-787 early January.
"We will be taking delivery of the 23rd Boeing 787 Dreamliner on January 9 and hope to have the last batch of four more Dreamliners by the end of this fiscal year. That will have us completing the process that started more than a decade ago in 2006," Air India finance director Vinod Hejmadi told PTI.
Hejmadi was in the city to deliver the keynote address at the 112th birthday celebrations of the airline founder JRD Tata over the weekend. He founded the airline as Tata Airlines on October 15, 1932 which was taken over the government later.
In 2016, the American aviation giant delivered two Dreamliners to against the plan of three. It was supposed to deliver the 23rd plane in November/December. The national carrier had in January 2006 ordered as many as 68 Boeing aircraft, making Air India one of the launch customers for what Boeing claimed as a game-changing plane.
The mega order included 27 Dreamliners or B787s and 41 B-777s and B-737-800s for a whopping Rs 64,000 crore. But the 2008 global financial crisis and the resultant recession worldwide delayed the delivery inordinately and the first batch of b787s reached the airline only in 2015.
While the long delivery delays sank the airline into a cesspool of debt and poor revenues due to the lingering crisis in the global aviation market, what was more worrisome for it was the recurring technical glitches that had for months grounded the entire fleet which was sold by Boeing originally as a game-changer aircraft with high fuel efficiency and larger space.
At present Air India has 22 B-787s which are deployed in long-haul routes. In October, the airline set a world record by flying the Dreamliner over the Pacific for the first time (normally the airline has been crossing the Atlantic) at a record 14.5 hours between New Delhi and San Francisco.
The airline has applied to take into the Guinness Records, Hejmadi said, adding began as a tri-weekly flight using the Dreamliner, the airline is flying six days a week now to near full capacity.
He said, with the delivery of the remaining B787s, the national carrier will double the frequency of the Sydney flight to 6-days a week, apart from flying to Washington and from summer and also to Denmark, Copenhagen, Tel Aviv. On December 1, it launched a direct flight to Madrid, which may also be doubled to six days a week, Hejmadi said.