However, the government, orchestrating a huge financial rescue plan for its loss-making carrier, is comfortable with the delivery of only 14. A decision will be taken by the Union cabinet very soon.
“Dreamliners are a prominent part of our turnaround plan and we want all 27 aircraft to join our fleet. This aircraft will be able to fill the much needed requirement of a medium-haul fleet,” said a senior Air India official, who did not want to be identified.
Air India had ordered 27 Dreamliners in 2005, as part of a 111-aircraft deal with Boeing and Airbus. Delivery has been delayed by a little over three years.
At present, the government does not want the airline to increase its financial burden. A Group of Ministers (GoM) on the ailing carrier, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, had formed a group of officers to decide on the status of plane purchase. The group suggested pruning the order to 14 aircraft. AI disagrees. “Over 85 per cent of our operations are to short-haul and medium-haul sectors. We are operating medium-haul sectors with long-haul planes or short-haul planes, ultimately making many routes unprofitable for us,” said a senior official.
Also, Dreamliners are built of composite material and consume less fuel. “It also requires less maintenance cost, making it a brilliant deal for us,” the official added. “With Dreamliners, we also plan to launch flights to Australia and increase our frequencies in the short-haul international sector.”