NEW DELHI: While the government on Thursday sought Parliament’s approval to infuse Rs 2,345 crore into the sinking Air India, what is not widely known is 15 of its aircraft fleet are lying idle for want of spare parts and engines. They alone need Rs 1,525 crore to be able to fly again.
As the 15 planes have been grounded, Air India has been forced to re-schedule and combine some flights. And the option of adding new routes is off the table.
In all, Air India fleet has 123 aircraft: four B747s, 18 B777s, 27 B787s, 22 A319s, 32 A320s and 20 A321s. Of them, five Boeing planes (two B787 and three B777) and 10 Airbus aircraft (five A319 and five A320) have been grounded (12.19%), said officials.
“Because of their grounding, Air India has not been able to add new routes. It has also been constrained to re-schedule some flights,” said a senior official of the national carrier.
The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) recently faulted Air India’s failure to add capacity for its plunging domestic market share. In a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, the ICPA pointed out that while other domestic carriers have placed huge aircraft orders with both Airbus and Boeing, Air India will induct only five new planes going forward.
“We have remained quite stagnant in the domestic market. We still continue to operate 350-odd daily flights on domestic routes... The load factor across all Air India flights is very high, but market share is slipping for want of additional capacity,” the ICPA said.