Air India looking ahead to a rosier 2010

Air India chairman and MD Arvind Jadhav hopes that joining the Star Alliance, the launch of a new terminal at New Delhi and next year's Commonwealth Games in October, also at New Delhi, will help change the carrier's fortunes.

"Then, you will see a new AI," he told media organisations at Brussels.

Outlining various problems the carrier is faced with, Jadhav said he expects the carrier to become a Star Alliance member sometime in the second half of 2010. Industry analysts point out that Air India management indeed has a plateful on its hand as revamping an ageing fleet, effecting a merger with its sister domestic service and preparing the carrier for the Star Alliance is a difficult task to handle all at the same time.

Though a lot of work has been done Jadhav points out, the integration of the Air India and Indian Airlines, which began in July 2007, is yet to be completed.

According to Jadhav, the merged entity is in the process of phasing out 46 aircraft, including our A310s and 747 Classics. He expects the fleet levels to be down to a more manageable 125 aircraft, from 156, by 2011.

On the issue of the induction of Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, Jadhav struck a sceptical note saying he was uncertain about the future of AI's order for 27 787-8s. He said the carrier was awaiting data from the aircraft's first flight scheduled for later this month.

He had no details to offer as to when Boeing proposed to deliver the 787-8s to Air India, which was one of the aircraft's early customers. He did not offer details on when AI expects its first 787.