Air India to lease aircraft to cover Boeing delay


New Delhi : Air India is in talks with major aircraft leasing companies abroad for some 15 aircraft to make up the losses it would incur following the delay in receiving 27 Boeing-787 Dreamliners.

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“We would preferably go for a dry lease. It is cheaper. We have to see how many aircraft can be made available owing to delay of the Boeing’s delivery,” V. Thulasidas told reporters here Monday on the sidelines of announcing its Delhi-New York non-stop daily flight from Feb 8.

Air India had earlier launched its Mumbai-New York non-stop flight Aug 1 last year.

Chicago-based Boeing has deferred deliveries of Dreamliners by three months, which means Air India will now fly the long-haul aircraft around May instead of February next year.

Under the contract, Boeing could compensate Air India for the delay. Thulasidas did not make the quantum of compensation clear, but Air India officials say it could receive a significant amount from Boeing.

Air India has ordered for 27 Dreamliners. It is yet to receive its first delivery.

Thulasidas remarked that the brand new Boeing 777-200LR (longer range) aircraft, christened “Gujarat” by Air India in keeping its policy of naming Boeing 777s after the various states of India, will fly westwards and will reach New York in just 17 hours.

Other aircraft that fly to the US via Europe take over 22 hours.

Not only has Air India tried to maintain lesser flying hours, it has also chosen the “most convenient time” for the non-stop Delhi-New York flight.

“Generally international flights reach or leave IGI (Indira Gandhi International) airport at the wee hours. Our timings for this flight is such that passengers can plan their flights ahead to other towns and cities at their convenience from Delhi and New York,” said Thulasidas.

The Delhi-New York flight would leave IGI at 0030 hours and will reach John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport in New York at 0545 hours. On the return flight, it will leave JFK at 0545 hours and reach IGI 1630 hours in the evening.

Air India has, however, kept its fares high.

While its introductory fares for economy seats would cost Rs.30,700, executive class tickets would cost Rs.159,000 and first class tickets would cost Rs.357,000. These fares do not include taxes.

Thulasidas said from Feb 1 the fares would be “higher”. Air India’s introductory offer is only up to Jan 31 this month.

Air India’s Executive Director D.S Koli told IANS the fares would be competitive.

“We will maintain the fare cost according to the market conditions,” he said.

Air India said the 238-seater aircraft would have eight seats in the first class, 35 in the executive class and 195 in the economy class.

The company’s chairman said he was looking at Bangalore-San Francisco connectivity by mid-2008 aboard another Boeing 777-200LR.

Air India has already introduced two direct flights to Singapore and Hong Kong.