Air India plans to deploy the Boeing-787 Dreamliner aircraft on domestic routes to save on fuel, train the crew and add flexibility to its operations by flying out to select overseas destinations.
The first of the 27 Boeing 787 aircraft is expected to join the fleet at the end of the month. Air India is the third global airline after All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines to receive the fuel-efficient and eco-friendly aircraft.
"A key feature of the aircraft is fuel saving; it consumes 20 percent less fuel than other aircraft. The proposal to deploy the aircraft on domestic routes will help us save on high jet fuel cost which is on domestic routes," a senior Air India official told IANS.
The domestic air turbine fuel (ATF) prices have been a huge concern for the aviation industry, as the jet fuel sold domestically is 50-60 percent higher than international prices due to the addition of sales tax and value added tax by the states.
The ATF sold on international-bound flights, on the contrary, are considered export and hence exempted from central and state levies.
The Boeing 787 aircraft is made of composite materials. Its newly-developed engine and advanced flight technologies make it highly fuel-efficient. The plane can fly up to 16,000 km non-stop.
"Initially we have proposed that the aircraft be utilised on some domestic routes such as Mumbai-Delhi. This is being proposed keeping in mind the high-end corporate as well as general demand in the sector," the official said, not wishing to be named.
According to the official, the aircraft could also fly out to Dubai and Singapore.
"We have also proposed the Dreamliner to be utilised on close-by destinations such as Dubai and Singapore. It can fly out from Mumbai to Delhi, then from here (Delhi) to Singapore and then back to Mumbai. It will gives us great flexibility. But all this depends on route planning."
The aircraft comes with a slew of advanced technologies which reduce noise and emission during all phases of flight, including take-off, cruise and landing.
AI's 787 will also be equipped with best-in class seats for its 256 passengers.
"We have contracted the world's best seat manufacturers for our business and executive class seats, including Contour Aerospace and Weber Aircraft," the official said.
While Contour Aerospace will equip the 18 business class seats, Weber would provide the rest 238 seats for the executive class.
On the in-flight-entertainment system, the official said it would be state-of-the-art 18000 from the aviation electronics major Thales.
Air India had booked 27 Boeing 787s in 2006 in a mega deal for 68 aircraft from Boeing. Air India was to get the delivery in May 2008 but that got pushed forward to the end of the month for a variety of reasons, including manufacturing delays.