1. As many as 10 Air India planes remain grounded at all times

As many as 10 Air India planes remain grounded at all times

Some of these Air India planes are narrow body aircraft, which face maintenance and on-ground problems, are 20 years old.

By: | New Delhi | Updated: July 27, 2015 2:05 PM
Air India

Air India is raising 0 million through external commercial borrowing (ECB) for aircraft maintenance. (Reuters)

Around 10 narrow body aircraft of Air India (AI) always remain grounded due to maintenance and aircraft-on-ground (AOG)—problems that are serious enough to prevent an aircraft from flying.

Air India has a fleet of 62 narrow body aircraft—the backbone of domestic air travel. The officials said that three narrow body aircraft are more than 20 years old, and have reached their maximum age, technically called the design service goals.

The Air India planes that are a part of the Boeing A320 family were expected to fly 60,000 hours. The hours that the Air India planes have flown are estimated to cross one lakh hours. The planes have been given an additional dispensation of two years, which means the aircraft manufacturer will provide extended maintenance for two years.“The maintenance schedule becomes tighter,” said officials.

Including the three planes, one-third of the Air India’s fleet has an average age of 18.5 years, which cause more frequent maintenance, compared to new ones resulting in planes being grounded—at an average of 10 planes every day. If a third of the fleet, which is Air India’s agony is left out, the average age of the fleet comes down to seven years.As reported by FE earlier, Air India is looking at leasing 19 aircraft, which was expected to come by 2016.

However, officials said that the leased aircraft will only start coming in 2017, which means Air India will have to continue to fly with a third of its fleet which will be soon be put to bed.The lessors will have to go through a tendering process to win the bids to supply the planes to Air India. “The tender is in process, with at least three lessors in the fray. Once the tender process is over, lessors said that the planes will be available by 2017,” said the ministry officials.

The lessors are participants from Kuwaiti airlines and Chinese airlines.

The grounded fleet also adds to Air India’s maintenance cost, in turn reducing the airlines’ on-time performance, which is 72.7% compared to the desired above 90%. Air India which has a debt of Rs 50,000 crore and accumulated losses of Rs 30,000 crore has its OTP as one of the lowest in the industry.

The older Air India aircraft are also fuel guzzlers, compared to its newer counterparts. Aviation turbine fuel make for 50% of airlines’ cost in India. The new aircraft will help the debt laden carrier improve its performance, but the planes are two years away.

Meanwhile, Air India is raising $330 million through external commercial borrowing (ECB) for aircraft maintenance.

Air India also needs to change its fleet of smaller aircraft, primarily used for regional connectivity in places like Agartala, Guwahati, Pantnagar and Kulu. The planes are CRG-700, which are already 12.5 years old. “These are being replaced by ATR-72. Two new ATRs have already arrived and two more are awaited,” said the ministry official.

The new planes will be critical in Air India’s turnaround plan (TAP), which expects the state-owned carrier to turn profitable by 2022. In the current fiscal, the airlines is expected to post its first year of operation profit, after a decade of losses.

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Tags: Air India
  1. B
    Jul 27, 2015 at 9:17 pm
    Boeing 320. Please check and report. Its Airbus A320
    1. B
      Jul 27, 2015 at 9:26 pm
      Lets also see the other part wherein it was only this ageing fleet which was used in Libya and Yemen to evacuate our people. The airline is doing far better than before and at this pace with few more corrections we will do better. The demise of Air India will only do good for its rivals rather than us pengers. There have been delays and cancellations but that is due to mismanagement. We need to focus on that and get the right people like the current CEO Rohit Nandan. We are currently one of the earliest in acquiring B787, trouble some in beginning but its fruits are going to pay in the long run. Instead of complaining just on the ageing aircraft msut do some reporting on the transit times as the penger loads will increase. There are yet many other avenues where they can improve. Highlight them and you will be a part of good reporting; one different from others and also enable to fly back the Maharajah to the green skies. I am an avid enthusiast of Aviation and my belief in Air India is one day they will be the biggest as we aviation is need most in our country.
      1. G
        Jul 27, 2015 at 4:26 pm
        This is slow death to one of the previous world cl airlines. The big question is how did this happen.
        1. G
          Jul 27, 2015 at 4:32 pm
          when world carriers are doing business my national carriers has its planes on the ground. This is a very sad state of affairs, The once glory of the international skies reduced to a humble housefly. The big question is who has brought my national carrier to its knees.The guilty must be punished.
          1. R
            Jul 29, 2015 at 7:05 am
            Its CRJ-700 .. not CRG-700 (Boing A320 already highlighted) Thank god you can spell ATR-72 correctly The writer does not have a clue on the aircraft type .. how reliable are these reports ?
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