Air India has finally taken delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The occasion follows a four-year delay and significant wrangling over compensation claims. Air India was at one point reported to have demanded almost US$1 billion compensation for the delays, with Boeing offering a fraction of that. While the final amount was not revealed, the delivery of the new aircraft will come as a considerable relief to the ailing airline.
“Today is a great day for Air India as the most technologically advanced and fuel-efficient airplane in the world joins our fleet,” said Rohit Nandan, Air India’s chairman & managing director. “The 787 will allow Air India to open new routes in a dynamic marketplace and provide the best in-flight experience for our passengers.”
Air India is only the fifth airline in the world to take delivery of a B787, following ANA, JAL, Ethiopian Airlines and LAN Airliners. In total, the Delhi-based carrier has ordered 27 Dreamliners, with another two expected to arrive within the next few weeks. The twin-aisle aircraft is equipped with 256 seats – 18 in business class seats and 238 in economy.
Air India will initially deploy the aircraft on its London route, although direct flights to Australia are also expected to be launched.
“We are pleased to celebrate another historic moment in our nearly seven-decade long relationship,” said Dinesh Keskar, Boeing’s senior vice president of Asia Pacific and India Sales. “I am sure Air India and their customers will be thrilled to experience the revolutionary features on the 787, an airplane that will be the key focus of the airline’s turnaround plan.”