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Will the NEW Boeing 787 Dreamliner save Air India?

Last updated on: September 10, 2012 13:31 IST

Will the NEW Boeing 787 Dreamliner save Air India?

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Surajeet Das Gupta and Disha Kanwar

As the much delayed Boeing 787 Dreamliner makes an official touchdown, complete with a water cannon salute, in Delhi to join Air India's fleet, the ailing airline is working on a plan to regain its lost space in the international skies.

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Image: Air India's Dreamliner Boeing 787 is given a traditional water cannon salute by the fire tenders upon its arrival at the airport in New Delhi.
Photographs: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters.

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While AI will not officially share its route plans for the 27 B-787 aircraft (at least three are expected this year), insiders and route planners say with its ability to fly optimally for 10 to 13 hours without a refuel, one destination is surely going to be Australia.

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Image: Air hostesses walk next to the parked Air India's Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner upon its arrival at the airport in New Delhi.
Photographs: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters.

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According to airport data, as many as 550 passengers fly from Delhi to either Sydney or Melbourne through either Singapore or Hong Kong or other destinations every day, including a large student community. That is because there is no direct flight between the two countries.

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Image: A security personnel stands guard as Air India's Dreamliner Boeing 787 taxies upon its arrival at the airport in New Delhi.
Photographs: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters.

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With indirect flights taking between 22 hours to as much as 38 hours to reach cities like Melbourne from Delhi, the Dreamliner would provide an attractive alternative, as well as command a premium, by doing the same for only nine and a half hours.

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Image: Jack Jones, VP and GM Boeing South Carolina, Air India Capt. A. S. Soman, Dinesh Keskar, Sr VP of Asia Pacific and India Sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, and M. L. Franklin, Air India technical team leader cutting the ceremonial ribbon.
Photographs: Courtesy, Boeing.

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AI is also looking at leveraging the Dreamliner to expand its limited European connectivity. This is presently only to London, Paris and Frankfurt, helping European carriers and even Jet Airways (with a base at Brussels) to gain at their expense.

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Image: Boeing celebrates delivery of Air India's first 787 Dreamliner.
Photographs: Courtesy, Boeing.

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Worse they are flying these routes with the B-777, long-haul aircraft optimised for 15-hour non-stop flying and requiring high load factors to break even. AI is looking at replacing these with the more fuel-efficient Dreamliners. It is also studying the potential in flying more routes such as those to Rome, Barcelona, Madrid or Milan.

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Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Photographs: Courtesy, Boeing.

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The Dreamliners would also provide new opportunities, such as connecting India to more destinations in China like Guangzhou and replacing the 777 to Shanghai directly.

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Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Photographs: Courtesy, Boeing.

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Similarly, in Southeast Asia, it could again fly to Kuala Lumpur, which it had stopped doing, and also connect to upcoming markets such as Hong Kong, Vietnam and Philippines. And, instead of flying to Tokyo on a 777, it could use the more efficient Dreamliner and cash on a growing market.

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Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Photographs: Courtesy Boeing.

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AI insiders and airport planners say new markets are also opening in countries such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where there is a lot of business traffic.

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Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Photographs: Courtesy, Boeing.

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The African market provides another opportunity, with the Dreamliner making direct connectivity to places such as Nairobi possible. 

A DREAM TAKES WING
What does the Dreamliner offer?

Replacing 777 with 787 will lead to a cost saving of 25%

Low-cabin altitude and lower pressure cabins will reduce passenger fatigue 

Large-sized windows 

Electronically dimmable window lights 

18 J class and 238 Y class seats




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