Air India is laying on some additional 747 domestic services over the Christmas period. New flights are scheduled on routes between Delhi and Bangalore, as well as Delhi to Chennai. These appear to be standalone flights to accommodate additional festive demand, rather than anything that will continue into the new year.
The additional services
Air India will be adding extra Boeing 747-400 services on domestic routes later this month. The schedule changes were first spotted by Routesonline and are as follows:
From Delhi to Bangalore: Additional services will operate on the 27th December 2019. These services will be operated as flight numbers AI174 and AI173. AI174 departs Delhi at 17:20, arriving in Bangalore at 20:00. The return flight will depart Bangalore at 21:20, arriving into Delhi at 23:55.
From Delhi to Chennai.: Additional services will be operated on December 30th 2019. These will be operated as flight numbers AI042 and AI043. AI042 will leave Delhi at 17:10, arriving in Chennai at 19:45. The return flight will depart Chennai at 21:15, arriving in Delhi at 23:55.
According to Routesonline, there were also additional 747 domestic services on the 20th December between Delhi and Bangalore, and ono the 16th and 23rd December between Delhi and Chennai.
Why does Air India fly its 747s domestically?
Air India has just four Boeing 747-400s left it its fleet, all of which are over 22 years old. Each one has 12 first class seats, 26 business and 385 in economy. Usually, one of the 747s is used by the government of India as Air India 1, and another is used on a rotation around Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jeddah and Kochi. Occasionally a 747 works the Delhi to Mumbai route or Delhi to Kolkata, but this is usually only around festivals.
Previously, Air India had filed schedule changes to add more 747 domestic services in the wake of the collapse of Jet Airways. The massive loss in domestic capacity left room for other airlines to expand, so Air India had planned to boost the number of seats on popular routes by scaling up the aircraft type.
However, this plan never materialized, as by June the airline had re-filed those schedules with modern 787 Dreamliners instead. The Dreamliners still offered an increased number of seats on many of the routes, but with greater fuel efficiency and an easier to fill aircraft than the 747. Air India has been struggling financially for a very long time now, and is facing the prospect of 100% privatization in the new year, if it can find a buyer.
Now, it seems Air India is laying on some additional 747 services for the Christmas period. It’s likely these services, given their timing, are purely to accommodate the increase in passengers moving around the country to visit family and friends. It’s unlikely the airline will continue flying the 747 on these routes in the new year.
For avgeeks in India, this is a prime opportunity to catch a flight on board the rapidly disappearing Queen of the Skies. As and when Air India finds a buyer, it’s likely one of the first things they’ll do is bin these old, inefficient aircraft to avoid associated costs.
Will you be hitching a ride on one of Air India’s 747s before they retire? Let us know in the comments.
The schedule information continued within this article was first reported by Routesonline.