After a four year-long delay, Air India on Thursday got the delivery of the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at South Carolina facility of Boeing in United States. The long haul fuel-efficient Dreamliner will take off on Friday and land in Delhi on Saturday.

“The 787 will allow Air India to open new routes in a dynamic marketplace and provide the best in-flight experience for our passengers,” Air India chairman and managing director, Rohit Nandan said in a statement here.

Boeing’s senior vice president of Asia Pacific and India Sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Dinesh Keskar said the company was pleased to celebrate another historic moment in thenearly seven decade-long relationship with Air India. “I am sure Air India and their customers will be thrilled to experience the revolutionary features on the 787, an airplane that will be the key focus of the airline's turnaround plan,” he added.

The national carrier, which had placed orders for 27 of these aircraft six years ago, gets the first delivery on September 8 which is to be followed by the delivery of two more within the next few weeks. The first batch was supposed to be delivered in September 2008 but design and production issues at Boeing delayed deliveries. The Union Cabinet had recently cleared the compensation package between Air India and Boeing for the delayed delivery of the aircraft. Air India intends to get 14 of them by March next year and plans to launch flights on several long-haul international sectors, including new services to Australia later this year.

For the next few weeks, Air India proposes to operate the Dreamliner on the domestic sectors, including Delhi-Mumbai, to enable the pilots and crew get accustomed to its landings and take-offs. Air India was the second world carrier to have placed orders for this aircraft. The airlines which have inducted and are already operating this aircraft are Japan's All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and Ethiopian Airways.

The plane is made of carbon composite material, which makes it light-weight and therefore is fuel efficient. Boeing claims the plane consumes 20 per cent less fuel compared to the similar-sized B-767s and better fuel efficiency implies lower flying costs. According to Boeing, as many as 47 airlines across the world have ordered nearly 900 Dreamliners. The airplane is equipped with 18 business class seats and 238 economy class seats.

The 787 has the range and capability to allow Air India to deploy the Dreamliner on many routes including the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Australia.