Thursday, September 04, 2014

Air India to transfer 70 B777 pilots to low-cost arm

Air India (AI) has decided to transfer 70 Boeing 777 pilots to its low-cost international arm — the AI Express.

The move will help the national carrier overcome the severe shortage of pilots faced by AI Express and at the same time put to optimal use B777 pilots whose flying had been reduced to a great extent with AI selling five of its B777 aircraft to Etihad. AI has plans to lease or sell another three B777 aircraft, which is a long haul aircraft.

“AI Express has a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft and conversion from B777 to the narrow body B737 can be done easily. With this single move, we will solve two big problems,” a senior AI official, who did not wish to be named, said. The proposal, sources said, has been cleared by the airline’s board.

“Except for the ultra long-haul flights to the US, we are using the B787 Dreamliner on most international routes. All international flights are operated using the Dreamliner,” said another official, who too did not wish to be quoted. “AI Express had been facing a shortage of pilots while competition from foreign and domestic airlines for traffic to Gulf had been increasing. With more pilots, pressure should ease a bit,” the official added.

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