Air India, which is struggling to make money on international routes, has managed to turn around its loss-making Delhi-Frankfurt sector after it deployed Boeing's 787 Dreamliners on this route since October this year, as per an ET report. The national carrier, which has ordered 27 Dreamliners, maintains that the superior technology of this aircraft will help the company reduce maintenance and fuel cost. “The airline is able to save at least Rs 20 lakh per flight after the Dreamliner is deployed. After four long loss-making years, we are making profit on this route now,” said a top Air India official, who didn't wish to be identified.
Air India wants to strengthen its London route and launch the 787 on its Paris sector as well. Air India, which has three 787s, will have seven by the end of the financial year. The carrier also plans to start flights with the Dreamliner on popular routes like Sydney and Melbourne while another aircraft will do a mix of Hong Kong and Singapore.
The decision to make Delhi its hub has also paid off because of better connectivity and the number of flights from Delhi has gone up to 90 from 54 in two years. The hub at Delhi will also allow Air India to be a network carrier, a pre-requisite for Star Alliance membership.
But some commanders are a bit skeptical of the Dreamliner strategy. While some senior Air India commanders agree that operational costs may have come down because of the deployment of the Boeing 787s, they argue that revenues too have slipped. “When we compare the Boeing 787 with the Boeing 777s, there's a fuel cost saving of about 17 lakh for a seven-hour flight as there is a 12 tonnes less fuel burn per hour on a 787 when you compare it with the 777. But the Boeing 787 has fewer business class seats - 18 against 35 on a 777. So, essentially there's a dip in revenue though the operating cost might have come down. But the target should be to bolster revenue and not look at cutting operational costs alone," said a senior Air India commander, choosing not to be identified.