Boeing plans to invest $185 million in a joint venture with Air India as part of a deal for the sale of 68 aircraft, including 27 of its latest offering - the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The proposed joint venture between the world's leading aerospace company and India's national flag carrier will offer maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities for Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft to third parties, according to Air India chairman and managing director Vasudevan Thulasidas.
The Boeing investment in the MRO joint venture will comprise $100 million for setting up the unit, $75 million for training and $10 million for general purposes, Thulasidas, here for the Sunday roll out of the Dreamliner, told reporters.
With plans to start its first non-stop flight between India and the US from Aug 1 on the Mumbai-New York route, a restructured Air India hopes to regain its position as one of the five top airliners in Asia in the next 10 years, he said.
Air India, which has chosen the Dreamliner primarily for its fuel efficiency, will deploy the 787 on denser routes of Asia, Africa, Europe and the US while its subsidiary Air India Express will use 737-800 on the Gulf, Middle East and Southeast Asia routes.
Describing India as the fastest growing market in the world, Thulasidas said an ongoing fleet review up to 2011 and beyond suggested that Air India would require many more aircraft offering 300 plus and 200 plus seats.
The proposed MRO, which will be one of the five Strategic Business Units (SBUs) of the restructured company following the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, will cover both airframes and engines with Boeing offering its expertise for airframes. Air India is looking for a partner for the engines, Thulasidas said.
Air India also plans to start six direct flights to the US starting with non-stop flights between New Delhi-New York, Mumbai-Chicago and Mumbai-San Francisco. Subsequently, eight Indian cities, including Kochi, Kolkata, Amritsar and Ahmedabad, will be linked to several US cities via a hub in New York.