Air India’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner will start flying on domestic routes from September 19, with the airline hoping that the fuel-efficient aircraft will bring back its good old ‘Maharaja’ days by saving costs.
With Air India implementing its turnaround and financial restructuring plans for several months now, the beleaguered national carrier has reported a cash surplus of Rs 48 crore between April and July against a cash deficit of Rs 586 crore during the same period last year.
“Dreamliner is an exciting plane. We hope that it will take Air India back to its good old ‘Maharaja days’,” Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said. US manufacturer Boeing claims the Dreamliner consumes 15-20 percent less fuel than an aircraft of the same size, thus substantially reducing fuel costs which comprises 40 percent of an airline’s total operational costs.
“Dreamliner will start flying on domestic routes from September 19. The first flight will be on Delhi-Chennai route. Later on, six more destinations will be added. It will fly on international routes in winter,” Air India CMD Rohit Nandan said.
Singh, along with former Civil Aviation ministers Shahnawaz Hussain and Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Congress MP Naveen Jindal, cut the ribbon to formally launch Air India’s first Dreamliner at a function at the IGI airport.
With the government already committing to provide Rs 30,000 crore to the cash-strapped carrier, he said no more funds would be given to the airline which would now on have carry out aggressive cost-cutting measures to become competitive.
Air India would take deliveries of five more B787s by the end of this year, seven in 2013, five in 2014, six in 2015 and three in 2016, he said, adding the airline would need to add more planes to expand its share in the domestic as well as international market.
“After the pilots strike, we have started to fly all destinations except Toronto, but we are not content with our market share. We need more aircraft but it is a long term plan and will be done after the approval of the Cabinet,” Singh said, adding Air India has set up a committee to look into its future aircraft requirement.