Air India would operate the flight from Delhi to Kolkata

Air India will resume flying Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Wednesday, almost four months after the airline grounded its fleet of six aircraft over safety concerns. The first flight will be from Delhi to Kolkata.

“The first commercial flight of the Dreamliner will start tomorrow [on Wednesday] from Delhi to Kolkata. Out of six B-787 planes, two have already been modified with new battery packs by the technical team from Boeing, in close association with engineers of Air India and the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA),” Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told journalists here. The rest would become operational by this month-end.

Mr. Singh said the Dreamliner would begin its first international flight on May 22. Air India would launch full-scale global operations with the Dreamliners, operating flights from Delhi to Birmingham and Sydney-Melbourne from August, to Rome and Milan from October, and to Moscow from early next year. “Another eight aircraft are expected to be delivered to Air India by the end of December. These will take the total number of B-787s to 14. The national carrier has ordered a total of 27 Dreamliners.”

Refusing to disclose the quantum of compensation Boeing would give Air India for grounding the six aircraft after incidents of battery overheating, Mr. Singh said Air India had set up an internal committee to talk to Boeing.

Referring to Air India’s performance, he said the carrier was working on a plan to cut costs by Rs. 2,000 crore this fiscal. While monetisation of its assets in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Coimbatore alone would generate Rs.1,000 crore in additional funds, oil marketing companies were expected to provide the airline with Rs. 500 crore in concessions. And the airline would generate around Rs. 500 crore in additional revenue through slashing of staff costs, savings from interest on loans and working capital and booking agency commissions.

For 2013-14, Air India’s total revenue was expected to jump 20 per cent, from Rs. 16,130 crore to Rs. 19,393 crore, and its net loss was likely to decline from Rs. 5,198 crore to Rs. 3,989 crore. “The total revenue in 2012-13 improved by almost 10 per cent over the previous year — from Rs. 14,714 crore to Rs. 16,130 crore. This is despite the strike by pilots. The airline has improved its performance and is consistently meeting most of the landmarks laid out in its turnaround plan,” Mr. Singh said.

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