In an attempt to get Air India back on track, civil aviation ministry officials said that the state-owned carrier would review its order of Dreamliners, a fleet of 27 Boeing 787 aircraft that started getting delivered from September 2012.
Already 20 aircraft have been delivered and the 21st is on its way. It is the remaining order that would be reviewed by the government.
The development comes after the Prime Minister’s Office asked the loss-making airline to submit a detailed performance report and a revival plan. “In the past we had bigger plans (for the Dreamliners) but we have not been able to fill the seats,” officials said.
Its seems that Air India has scheduled its Dreamliners without proper groundwork and flying plan. It was expecting a passenger load factor (PLF) of 80%, but all its international flights put together has a PLF of about 70%. For example, on the Delhi-Moscow route, the PLF is as low as 47%, with losses staggering at R60 crore. Delhi-Sydney-Melbourne reported R300 crore in losses.
In January, there were reports that Air India is in talks with Boeing to upgrade the remaining fleet of 787-800 planes to 787-900, which are bigger and can carry more passengers. Analysts said that there is no point upgrading to bigger planes, when the current capacity does not get filled.
Officials said the 787-900 is also more expensive.
The move is worrying as till a few months back Dreamliners were a part of the airline’s revival strategy. That, however, seems not to be the case anymore. The government has formed 5-member panel to look into the airline’s revival, which is also likely to look at the firm’s Dreamliner strategy.