The national carrier preparing to seek compensation from Boeing

With no signs of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner taking to the skies in the near future, national carrier Air India, which has grounded six of its B-787s, is now preparing to seek compensation for the commercial losses suffered.

Boeing on Thursday indicated that the issue of compensation to Air India would be taken up after issues pertaining to the airworthiness and safety of the aircraft were settled to the satisfaction of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“The focus is to get the airplane back in action, and then we will deal with that issue of compensation like we dealt with all these deliveries that are happening.

“We will deal with that in closed rooms and with customers,’’ Dinesh Keskar, Boeing's vice-president for sales in Asia Pacific and India, told reporters in Bangalore on the sidelines of an Aero India show.

Sources in the Aviation Ministry said that apart from re-scheduling its national and international flight routine due to the grounding of six Dreamliners, Air India was incurring a loss of around Rs. 18 to 20 crore a month including Rs. 7.5 crore for monthly interest. The planes are grounded since January 17, following a FAA directive.

More fuel expenses

In addition to this, the national carrier has been forced to shell out more for fuel expenses as it had to press the Boeing 777s into service for servicing the domestic and international routes in place of the Dreamliners. The Dreamliners were nearly 15 per cent more fuel efficient than the Boeing 777s and A320s.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has already stated that Air India would seek compensation.

The Dreamliners had been termed fortune revivers of the national carrier which has been in a financial mess ever since its merger. Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co Ltd (ANA), which operates 17 of the 50 Dreamliners in service at present, has said the grounding would result in a fall of $15.4 million (Rs. 82 crore) in revenue.

Air India flew its 787s on three domestic routes and three international routes. However, due to non-availability of trained Boeing 777 pilots, the airline was forced to cancel or combine flights to Europe and Tokyo. AI was due to receive two more 787s by March but the deliveries have been deferred. “Boeing has submitted an application to conduct 787 test flights and it is currently under evaluation by FAA,’’ Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said.

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