Air India plans to finally take off with its first Boeing 787 tomorrow on a flight to Delhi from Charleston, South Carolina, following an impromptu delivery ceremony today and months of bureaucratic wrangling over program delay compensation.
“Today is a great day for Air India as the most technologically advanced and fuel-efficient airplane in the world joins our fleet,” said Rohit Nandan, Air India chairman and managing director. “The 787 will allow Air India to open new routes in a dynamic marketplace and provide the best in-flight experience for our passengers.”
Holding a firm order for 27 Dreamliners, Air India becomes the fifth airline in the world to take delivery of a 787. The airplane’s cabin carries 18 business-class seats and 238 economy-class seats.
“We are pleased to celebrate another historic moment in our nearly seven-decades-long relationship,” said Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president of Asia Pacific and India sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “I am sure Air India and their customers will be thrilled to experience the revolutionary features on the 787, an airplane that will be the key focus of the airline’s turnaround plan.”
In an interview with AIN, Keskar explained that the Air India crew will leave for Delhi tomorrow for ceremonies planned on Saturday in India. They will then ferry the airplane to Mumbai, rest, then return to Charleston for the airline’s second Dreamliner. The process will likely take between seven and 10 days, he added.
Although Keskar couldn’t confirm Air India’s planned date for first revenue service, by last week the airline had trained 64 pilots to fly the 787, and said that it will limit service to domestic flights for the first 30 to 45 days to prepare crews for international flights. Air India’s first international service with the 787 will connect either Delhi or Mumbai with a major city in Australia, he said.