Air India would get its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner by this month end as scheduled, official sources said on Wednesday, though civil aviation minister Ajit Singh cancelled his US visit to receive the new-generation aircraft owing to problems facing the national carrier.
Official sources said the first Dreamliner would come to India by the "end of this month as scheduled".
The minister, who was supposed to lead a delegation to Seattle and Charleston to take the delivery of Dreamliner, cancelled the trip "in view of the on-going problems of Air India including pilots' strike and passengers' inconvenience," an official statement said.
While Air India has ordered 27 of these new planes, Jet Airways has placed orders for ten which are likely to be delivered in another four years. The national carrier is expected to get at least three of these airplanes this year.
The long-haul aircraft, which is made of composite materials like carbon fibre, is portrayed as a fuel-efficient plane that would help slash flying costs significantly due to its lighter weight and non-stop flying capacity.
Boeing has received 896 orders for this aircraft and has so far delivered about 12 of them, mostly to two competing airlines from Japan -- Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) which was the first customer. As of last year, the list price of a Dreamliner 787 was about USD 194 million.
Meanwhile, Singh held a meeting to review the Haj operations for this year where he took inputs from representatives of the Haj Committee of India and the state Haj committees.
About 1,25,000 pilgrims are expected to visit Saudi Arabia to undertake Haj this year. There would be 21 embarkation points across the country.
These are Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kozikhode, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Bhopal, Indore, Nagpur, Gaya, Ranchi, Varanasi, Guwahati, Jaipur, Mangalore, Srinagar and Goa.
Singh said the civil aviation ministry has geared itself to put in place all logistics well before the start of the Haj flights, which are proposed to commence in the second half of September.
Penalty provisions have been incorporated in proposed MoUs for air charter services to ensure better facilities for Haj pilgrims during air travel and at the airports.
These include penalty clauses for non-tagging and non-weighing of baggage and for absence of airline personnel at help desks in Jeddah and Madina.
Round-the-clock control rooms would be opened at Jeddah and Madina in Saudi Arabia and in Delhi.
Haj Committee chairperson Mohsina Kidwai and civil aviation secretary SNA Zaidi were also present at the meeting.