While the grounding of Jet Airways’ fleet was fairly high profile, Air India’s went quietly unnoticed. The airline currently has 19 non-operational aircraft including the Boeing 777 and Boeing 787. Now, however, the carrier wants to spend the equivalent of $72 million to get the Air India grounded fleet back in the air.
A number of Indian carriers have been struggling financially of late. Indeed, this has even seen the suspension of flights by Jet Airways. However, airlines such as AirAsia India have been looking to capitalise on this by increasing their fleet.
The Air India situation
Air India currently has 19 grounded aircraft. According to Business Traveller, this comprises more than ten A320s, along with a number of Boeing 787 and 777 aircraft. The aircraft have been grounded due to ongoing repair issues which had been deemed too costly to fix. It is unclear whether this extends to Trent 1000 issues regarding the Boeing 787 aircraft.
Air India will reportedly raise its market share using the newly freed up aircraft. There is, however, a catch. The new aircraft will likely not be flying until August. This is due to the amount of maintenance required to make the planes airworthy again. Remember that a number of these aircraft will not have been flown in months.
Grounded aircraft are a particular issue for aircraft. When the aircraft is sat on the ground it is not making money for the airline, as it is not carrying fare-paying passengers through the air. Indeed, the opposite is true. Grounded aircraft can end up costing the airline significant amounts. This is one of the reasons that Southwest moved their fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to the Californian desert.
Elsewhere in Air India
Air India itself hasn’t been doing too well financially as of late. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Simple Flying reported that Air India was on the verge of defaulting on debt. This was the initial move which triggered Jet Airways to spiral into flight suspensions.
At this time, the $72 million cash injection into the Air India fleet has yet to be confirmed. There is also no mention of where this cash is coming from.
Simple Flying previously reported: “Air India’s total debt stands at INR 540 billion ($7.8 billion). The government recently offloaded more than half of this amount of INR 290 billion ($4.2 billion), to a newly formed special purpose vehicle, Air India Asset Holdings Ltd (AIAHL) to reduce its annual debt servicing.”
Hopefully, by getting these aircraft back into service, Air India can start on the path to realising more of their outstanding debt. Grounded aircraft ultimately kick-started the demise of Jet Airways, something Air India could be looking to avoid.
Do you think that Air India will be able to turn its fortunes around with these 19 aircraft? Let us know in the comments!