Air India's third hangar will have a soft opening before the weekend with an Air India Express flight undergoing a "phase check" there. Air India Express has 20 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, and the hangar is located at a stone's throw from the Thiruvananthapuram international airport, said Air India's chief operating officer PP Singh.
Singh said that the hangar would be 100 per cent complete by March 2009, until when Air India will be doing phase check for two aircraft every week.
Once complete, all 11 aircraft stationed at three airports in Kerala will do their test at the hangar, along with another three aircraft presently stationed at Chennai. Upon completion, it will be the country's first fully air conditioned hangar, operating four shifts with a minimum 200 full-time employees..
Presently, Air India has hangars in Mumbai and Delhi.
Singh said that the biggest gainer of the hangar will be Air India Express, which presently gets its checks done in Mumbai. It will result in tremendous cost saves for the airline since each aircraft needs to be flown to the Mumbai hangar after every 500 hours of flying. Additionally, once the hangars are fully operational, Air India would have two hangars, and will be in a position to offer checks to other airlines, and will earn additional revenues in the process.
Air India Express, which completed its third anniversary in April this year, currently operates 87 flights a week to various Middle-East destinations from the three Kerala airports.