Air India to partner Boeing''s Nagpur MRO unit

Air India (AI) will be an equity partner in the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility being set up by international aircraft manufacturer Boeing in Nagpur. The search for a third partner in the venture is on.

AI has sent a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to Boeing, but the exact holdings will be worked out later, National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL) chairman and managing director V Thulasidas said at the launch of Air India Express''s maiden Nagpur-Dubai flight on Monday 24 September.

Boeing had announced the setting up of a Rs500-crore MRO facility last year, as part of the Rs45,000-crore 111-aircraft deal with Air India. "An aviation revolution is being scripted in the hinterland of India, and we''ve been successful in easing the traffic at Delhi and Mumbai," union civil aviation minister Praful Patel said.

Choosing the occasion to put down his cabinet colleague and Nagpur MP Vilas Muttemwar, Patel said: "Nagpur will become a cargo hub, but there has to be a clear direction we need to take. We have to increase traffic, and take steps to make the service viable. Muttemwar has criticised Patel over the delay in the handover of the Nagpur airport for the Multimodal International Hub Airport at Nagpur.

Patel said that the proposal for transfer of the airport to the special purpose vehicle - a joint venture between Maharashtra Airport Development Company and Air India - has been moved and will be discussed before the cabinet.

But, he pointed out, the state government had to acquire the land first, so that the airport project can be handed over to a private player for development. Patel said he would pitch for Nagpur among cargo handlers at the World Economic Forum scheduled at New Delhi in October.