Air India’s grounding of Boeing-787 Dreamliners has already started adding into the airlines’ fuel cost by around Rs 40 lakh daily apart from changes in flight schedule, said a senior Air India (AI) official. It has been a week since the United States regulator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asked airlines around the world to ground B787s due to battery problems.
“Though the upward movement of fuel bill is hardly even 1% of the Air India’s annual fuel bill of around Rs 6,700 crore yet prolonged grounding will definitely impact us. the impact is not that much as AI has very limited international operations using B-787,”said a senior Air India official.
Air India has six Boeing 787s and was operating them on three domestic routes (Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata) and three international routes (Dubai, Frankfurt and Paris). The airline is due to receive two more 787s in January and February and the decision to induct them will now hinge on how the US plane maker addresses the safety concerns. The airline deployed a Boeing 747-400 plane on the Delhi-Dubai route and clubbed the Paris and Frankfurt routes using a Boeing 777.
The turnaround plan of loss making national carrier largely bank on the operations of medium-haul Dreamliners as the plane is claimed to be 20% more fuel efficient and do away with route and plane mismatch in Air India’s operations.
Air India introduced Boeing 787 on routes like Frankfurt because of better route economics. By deploying B777 on these routes, the advantage of fuel efficiency of the aircraft is lost.
Though the civil aviation ministry has expressed that the US manufacturer Boeing would have to pay compensation to Air India yet the amount has not been decided. "The amount of the compensation would take into consideration the number of flights, passenger load factor and average fares on those routes,"said a senior civil aviation ministry official.