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Air India readies schedule to reduce fleet

Source : BUSINESS_STANDARD
Last Updated: Tue, Oct 27, 2009 05:57 hrs

To bring down its aircraft strength of 133 to 95, National Aviation Company Ltd (Nacil), which runs Air India, has worked out a combination of leasing, selling and phasing out of its existing fleet.

Under the plan, the heavily loss-making airline will sell five aircraft, put on lease another seven and return 16 leased big aircraft and five narrow-body ones, in phases by January 2011. This will bring down the fleet strength to 95.

Confirming the development, a company spokesperson said, "We have not yet calculated how much we will earn or save by this, as all depends on the rates at the time when the quotations will be invited".

Though the number of planes will come down, the capacity won't, he said, as the older planes are being replaced by larger and newer aircraft.

The airline, reeling under a Rs 7,200 crore loss on its books at the end of the last financial year, has asked for a government grant.

A group of Union ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee may approve Rs 5,000 crore — Rs 2,000 crore as equity and Rs 3,000 crore as grant — for the airline.

Among the seven aircraft the airline will lease, three will be new Boeing 777-200LR and four cargo planes. The airline is also to receive delivery of eight aircraft of the same make.

Of the 16 leased aircraft to be returned, three are Boeing planes used for VIP operations and four are Boeing 777-200ER, to be let go at one each in March, May and August 2010 and in January 2011.

Other Boeing aircraft include four B777-300ER aircraft to go in the second quarter of the next financial year and three Boeing 777-200, the first to be let go in the first quarter in FY10 and two in the second quarter. The list also has two Airbus 310-300, one each to go in March and May 2010 ,and five narrow-body aircraft.

The airline also intends to sell three Boeing 747-400 after the Haj operations in January 2010 and two A310 Cargo planes.

This plan was presented by Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Jadhav to civil aviation minister Praful Patel on October 14.

The total aircraft that Air India ordered in 2004 was 111 — 68 from Boeing and 43 from Airbus. Of these, the airline has already received deliveries of 60 aircraft.



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