In a move that may completely stump its rivals, Air India (AI) is considering a proposal to deploy two of its brand new state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliners jets for exclusive use on domestic routes such as Delhi-Mumbai.
AI, which has received 21 of the 27 Dreamliners it had ordered in 2005, is the only Indian carrier to have a B787 in its fleet.
Indian airlines mostly operate narrow body jets such as Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 on domestic routes. These planes have a seating capacity of around 180.
“It could prove to be a gamechanger for the airline. At present, there are no dedicated B787 flights on the domestic sector. They are used only for add-on flights like London-Delhi-Kolkata during the spare time.
Besides Kolkata, the 787s are also deployed for add-on flights to Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai,” an AI official said.
Passenger response, the official added, to the Dreamliner on domestic routes has been stupendous. “On an average, flights are 85% full. More importantly, the business class is mostly sold out and hence the yields are higher. The aircraft offers a lot of comfort to passengers and saves fuel. This is the reason why we are thinking of deploying two 787s exclusively on domestic routes,” another official said.
“This is an initial proposal that is being talked about,” an AI spokesperson said.
“The Dreamliner is an ace up AI’s sleeve. It’s a product that would draw passengers on its own and could turn out to be a big money spinner for the airline,” said aviation expert Rajji Rai.
“One reason why AI might decide against using the 787 on domestic routes is that the maintenance cost of the plane would go up but the higher revenue so generated should balance it out,” Rai added.