Air India has prepared a revival plan to make 19 of its grounded planes airborne by October, according to a top airline official. Many of these planes, of a total fleet size of 127, have been grounded for more than a year awaiting replacement of engines and their spare parts. However, faced with a cash crunch, the airline has been unable to procure these. It is estimated that the airline will need nearly ₹1,000 crore to ensure these aircraft start flying again.
“Two Boeing 777s will be revived by May-end, four 787s by August and the remaining 13 A320s by October,” a senior official said on the condition of anonymity, adding that this plan had been shared with the Ministry of Civil Aviation too.
Another official said the airline would try to resolve most engine issues by “paying for repairs and spare parts” instead of buying new engines. Last month, the airline had also floated a tender for a loan of $45 million from banks to finance the purchase of five CFM 56-5B engines for its Airbus A320 aircraft by mortgaging three of the newer generation CFM Leap 1-A engines as it has already exhausted the ₹2,000 crore sovereign guarantee to raise loans.
The airline had to extend the May 14 deadline for bids by 15 days as it didn’t get a good response. It also has to pay interest of nearly ₹8,000 crore on total debt of ₹55,000 crore. After the Centre’s attempt to privatise Air India failed last year, the airline has been under added pressure to cut losses by reviving these aircraft, to make itself attractive to potential bidders.
But the number of planes rendered temporarily unusable have only been mounting, from 12 in August to 14 in February and 19 in May.