National carrier Air India is underutilizing its flagship Boeing Dreamliner fleet due to flight crew shortage as well as technical issues with only 21 planes being deployed for operations every day, said an Indian news agency report.
“Of the 27 planes, three are on the ground due to want of spares, while three are being used on a rotational basis. So effectively, only 21 aircraft are in service on any given day,” the agency quoted an airline source, who alleged that the underutilization was due to the scarcity of commanders.
Air India has 27 Boeing 787-800 (Dreamliner) aircraft in its fleet at present, majorly used for carrying out airline’s European operations besides catering its services to Singapore, Japan, Australia, China, Thailand, Israel, South Korea, and Dubai.
Besides, some of the flights on key domestic trunk routes like Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Kolkata are also operated by the Dreamliner.
An Air India official said that only three aircraft were on the ground, while the rest 24 planes are servicing the various international and domestic routes.
Airline’s Airbus fleet pilots body, ICPA, had last month alleged that as many as 19 aircraft, including nine Airbus A321s, was not in service due to non-availability of spares and that it was resulting in a significant loss of revenue to the carrier besides flight cancellations.
“Almost 23 per cent of the Air India fleet is grounded for lack of spares. To put this into perspective, aircraft worth approximately USD 3.6 billion or approximately Rs 25,000 crore (at today’s list price) are lying idle in the hangars,” the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) had alleged in a letter to airline chairman and managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola.
Air India had, however, termed the grounding of planes for maintenance a common practice.