National carrier Air India has shelved its plan to acquire five Boeing 787-9, the higher range variant of Boeing Dreamliner (787-800) aircraft, after failing to secure the nod of its Board and would stick to the original model.
Air India currently has 20 Dreamliners in its fleet. The carrier had signed a deal with the American aircraft maker Boeing Co in 2005 to acquire 68 planes, of which 27 are the Boeing 787-800s. The rest 41 are Boeing 777s (23) and 737-800 (18).
Of the remaining seven planes, which are to be delivered to the Air India by mid-2016, the carrier had late last year proposed to replace five of them with Boeing 787-9.
Air India had put across its proposal to acquire five Boeing 787-9 in lieu of Boeing 787-800s to its Board recently. But the board did not accept it (the proposal), an official source said.
The airline was looking at inducting the higher range variant of the aircraft, which has more seating capacity than the existing model for its ultra long-haul routes such as the US and Canada. The Boeing 787-800 has 256 seats, of which 18 are in business class and remaining 238 in economy class.
Currently, these aircraft caters to Air India's European and some Asian routes besides servicing some domestic destinations. Government had early last month said that Air India was evaluating switching its order for Dreamliner aircraft from Boeing 787-8 to the larger version 787-9. Model substitution rights is available for Air India under the purchase agreement for the B787-8 aircraft signed by it with Boeing.
The national carrier has set up a committee, comprising representatives from finance, commercial, engineering and strategy & planning departments, to evaluate the option to exercise the model substitution rights, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma had said. Boeing had provided four interior layout options for the B787-9 in two class (executive + economy) configuration, Sharma had said.