Air India is expected to take delivery of three Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft this month, 44 months after the scheduled delivery of September 2008. The aircraft's US manufacturer Boeing Co, however, has agreed on a compensation package for the delayed delivery, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said today.
Air India had placed orders for 27 Boeing 787s as far back as in 2005, and was originally supposed to take delivery starting in September 2008. This did not happen because of delays at the production-end.
The national carrier was supposed to receive the first batch of the aircraft in May 2012, but Boeing's futuristic plane was hit by several initial snags, delaying delivery further.
Singh had earlier clarified that India would not accept the aircraft till a compensation package was agreed upon. This package is now before a group of cabinet ministers for final approval, he said.
"For the initial six to eight weeks, the first Dreamliner aircraft will be used on domestic routes to enable pilots to practice landings and take-offs. The first long-haul flight of the aircraft will be in August between Mumbai and London and Australia; and full commercial operations will commence in August-September," Singh told a press conference in New Delhi.
The aviation minister also unveiled new plans for international operations of Air India, including two new flights to Kuala Lumpur and London and resuming operations to Hong Kong, Osaka and Seoul by 1 August.
However, these plans seem a little far-fetched at the moment, considering that the near bankrupt airline, afloat only on government support, is also facing a month-old strike by its pilots, which has crippled its mainstay international operations and is adding to its losses by the day.