In the wake of Jet Airways’ collapse, Air India announced two domestic routes will receive Boeing 747 aircraft as a boost to domestic capacity. However, now Live from a Lounge reports that Air India has replaced those fights with 787s.
The original announcement
Air India originally scheduled the 747s to operate on flights from Delhi to Mumbai and Kolkata. These represented a significant capacity increase. For Air India, they didn’t have many extra aircraft to redeploy on these routes. So, they brought back the 747 aircraft. These jumbo jets were the equivalent of offering new multiple daily frequencies on a single flight.Air India’s 747s generally operate VIP flights for government officials. Photo: Jose Luis Celada Euba/Wikimedia
The new replacement
Air India’s 787s are smaller and much more fuel efficient than 747s. In addition, the onboard product is much better. Air India’s 747s are aging birds that haven’t seen a refreshment in years. Even their First Class is in a 2-2 configuration. However, for a short-haul domestic flight, this doesn’t really matter that much. Air India’s 747s don’t regularly operate any other routes.
Air India’s financial difficulties
Air India doesn’t have a very healthy balance sheet. In fact, they’ve posted loss after loss. However, with government support, they’ve been able to stay afloat. Indeed, a flag carrier going bust would draw a significant amount of negative attention, so for now, Air India still is flying.
It seems that Air India believes they’ll be able to return to profitability now that Jet Airways isn’t flying anymore. It doesn’t seem likely Jet Airways will return as a strong competitor, after losing multiple slots and aircraft.
On the other hand, Air India may have taken these 747s out of service in favor of more fuel-efficient 787s. This could be to reduce costs while also increasing capacity. Furthermore, it is much easier to fill a 787 than it is to fill a 747. Even then, some passengers may be tempted with a more modern lie-flat on the 787.
If you’re an avgeek, this represents some sad news since it doesn’t seem Air India will fly the 747 for much longer. Beyond that, this could be the start of Air India’s full retirement of the 747 from commercial service. Though an iconic aircraft for heads of state, Air India simply can’t turn a profit. Moreover, it is unlikely Air India would be willing to bear those fuel costs or invest in revamping the cabin.
Boeing 747 aircraft are on their way out of service. Unfortunately, this represents another lost opportunity to fly the Queen of the Skies before they’re gone for good.
Were you supposed to fly on a Boeing 747 with Air India? Are you affected by this announcement? Let us know in the comments!