Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Case of The Missing Bird: First Dreamliner jet, which was scheduled to arrive in in New Delhi this week, missed its deadline yet again

By Santanu Choudhury 
The Wall Street Journal - India

When will the first Dreamliner jet finally land in India? Neither the buyer, Air India Ltd., nor the seller Boeing Co., seem to have an answer to this question.

After missing several delivery deadlines over the past few months–not to mention a delay of nearly four years due to production problems at Boeing–the Dreamliner was scheduled to arrive in New Delhi this week, either Wednesday or Thursday.

Not so.

An Air India spokesman says the airline is waiting for some documents to be signed by the law ministry about the compensation agreement between the airline and the Chicago-based plane maker for the delay in the delivery of the Dreamliners. The spokesman declined to give any fresh date for the landing of the aircraft.

This after a senior airline official said Monday that the planes will likely arrive this week, with two more to follow in quick succession

Boeing India President Dinesh Keskar declined to give any date for delivering the first of 27 Dreamliners ordered by Air India. “All I can tell you is Air India delivery is getting closer,” Mr. Keskar told India Real Time via email.

The expected delivery of the first Dreamliner has been extensively covered in local media.

This is because Air India, the loss-making national carrier, is one of the first customers for the long-range Dreamliner planes, having placed its order in January 2006, roughly two years after the 787 program was launched.

The Dreamliner 787-800 is considered among the most fuel-efficient aircraft globally, with Boeing saying it uses 20% less fuel than similarly-sized planes. The aircraft can carry up to 250 passengers and fly without stopping for up to 15,200 kilometers. The plane also has more cargo carrying capacity than similarly-sized wide-bodied planes.

Air India will join All Nippon Airways Co., Japan Airlines Co. and Ethiopian Airlines as the only airlines that operate the Dreamliner. As many as six more carriers are set to receive Dreamliners this year.

To speed up delivery of the Dreamliners to customers worldwide, Boeing opened a new manufacturing facility at North Charleston in South Carolina. The first plane from that plant is to be delivered to Air India.

The Dreamliner is considered key to Air India’s plan to turn profitable, as the fuel-efficient planes will allow the carrier to cut costs by replacing older, more fuel-guzzling planes. Air India has posted losses for the past five years, due partly to high fuel and interest costs, which have been exacerbated by intensifying competition on domestic and overseas routes.

The airline will also be able to start new flights to foreign destinations–crucial for it to regain market share lost to Emirates Airline Deutsche Lufthansa and others. Air India has said already that it will start flights initially to Australia and Western Europe with the Dreamliners.

Earlier this year, India’s aviation ministry said it had asked Boeing to pay nearly $1 billion to Air India for the delay and that the Chicago company has agreed to pay half that amount. Boeing disputed that claim, and the delivery of the planes were delayed further from their end-May schedule.

And on Aug. 3, the Indian government permitted Air India to take delivery of the Dreamliners after the two sides signed a confidential compensation agreement.

The new birds will have to wait for the bureaucratic processes to be sorted out before they join the fleet of Air India. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.