Things for Air India aren’t exactly going so great right now. The airline is in the middle of a pilot strike that has been going on since May 8th and has cost the airline over $63million, due mostly to international flight cancellations. Over 200 pilots have called in sick and the airline has responded by firing over 100 of them.
Back in 2005, Air India placed orders for 27 Boeing 787s and was originally supposed to take delivery starting in September 2008. Obviously that did not happen with the delays of the Dreamliner.
It was expected that the airline would take delivery of their first Dreamliner by the end of May 2012, but almost un-noticed, no aircraft have been delivered.
According to MyDigitalfc.com, “Air India was earlier supposed to receive the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft by this month-end, but the delivery was delayed due to technical issues revolving around last minute checks relating to minor glitches in interiors.” It seems like it might be more complicated than that.
It appears that Air India is trying to receive compensation for the delays of their aircraft and are refusing to take delivery until an amount is agreed upon. If this sounds familiar, it is because Cargolux pulled something similar with Boeing before taking delivery of their 747-8Fs.
One of the concerns raised by the striking pilots is that many who are being re-trained to fly the 787 are from the ex Indian Airlines (which was merged with Air India in 2011). According to The Hindu Business Line, it would cost about three times as much to train ex Indian Airlines pilots to fly the 787 versus Air India pilots, so it doesn’t quite make sense.
Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Indian government is planning to invest 12 billion rupees ($215.6 million) into the faltering airline. For now, it seems Air India will stay afloat, even though it has lost large amounts of money over the past five years.
So, will Air India ever take delivery of their 787 Dreamliners and why are they delayed? Emails to Air India have gone un-answered and at the time of posting this story, Boeing is working to answer some questions posed by AirlineReporter.com.
Boeing has billions of dollars worth of aircraft currently sitting at Paine Field, which I am sure they just want to deliver to their customers. It seems like odd timing that Air India, which doesn’t really have any pilots to fly the 787 right now (or money), is aggressively seeking cash from Boeing, just days before intended delivery.
Boeing has written back and explained, “We look forward to delivering the first 787 Dreamliner to Air India, but we don’t discuss details of our delivery plans and defer to our customers to announce their own timing.” When asked if there were any technical issues that contributed to the most recent delay and if the 787s are currently ready for delivery, Boeing stated, “We don’t discuss those topics.” This is not too surprising, since Boeing is still in the middle of negotiations with Air India.
The NYDailyNews is reporting that a compensation package offered by Boeing has been accepted by the Air India board and now needs to be approved by the the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). The CCEA is planning to meet with Boeing tomorrow, Thursday.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Air India is expecting to receive their first 787 Dreamliner later this month.