National carrier Air India (AI) will operate its first transatlantic flight using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, connecting Ahmedabad with Newark via London from August 15.
The state-owned carrier has been using the Dreamliner primarily for flights to Europe, West Asia and South-East Asia, and uses the ultra long-haul Boeing 777 jets for its non-stop flights to North America that fly over the Atlantic.
AI hopes the presence of a large Gujarati community in the US will make the flight a big success. Also, the airline has traffic rights to uplift passengers from London both ways – for the onward flight to Newark as well as to Ahmedabad from London – which would further boost its load factor.
“Our Mumbai-London-Newark flight that was discontinued in 2008 was a big hit drawing excellent passenger traffic, mostly Europeans, for the London-Newark leg. The flight was discontinued after we launched non-stop services to the US. We are confident that this sector will do very well,” said an AI official. “Our pilots have undergone special training as this would be our first transatlantic flight using the Dreamliner.”
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, inducted by AI in 2012, has become the mainstay of its wide-body fleet. The airline had ordered 27 Dreamliners in 2005, of which 21 have been delivered so far. There are plans to take around five more 787s on lease in addition to the 27 on order as the airline expands its international network. AI will start services on the Delhi-Madrid sector from December.
Besides the 787s, the other wide-body jets with AI include 15 B777s and five B747 jumbos, which are used mostly for VIP flights.