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Cash-strapped Air India forced to ground 20 planes

PTI     May 1, 2019

The flag carrier Air India has been forced to ground as many as 20 of its 127 aircraft, comprising both wide-bodies as well as single-aisle, as it does not have the funds to replace their engines, a senior official has said.

The debt-ridden AI needs at least Rs 1,500 crore to get new engines for these planes, and with no funds coming in, these planes are unlikely to resume operations any time soon, the official explained.

The loss-making carrier has a fleet of 127 planes of which 45 are Boeing wide-bodies (27 B787s and 18 B777s) and cater to the long-haul and ultra-long-haul international routes, and the rest are narrow-body Airbus A320s.

"As many as 20 of our planes are out of operations since late last year due to engine issues. That means almost 16 per cent of our fleet is down. These planes have to be fitted with new engines, which will require around Rs 1,500 crore," the official said.

Of these, 14 are A320s, four are B787-800s (Dreamliners) and the remaining two are B777s he said.

The official said the airline has been trying to get them back into operations with new engines, since late last year but for want of funds, these planes are unlikely to be up and flying before October."

Notably, last August the airline's narrow-body pilots body ICPA (Indian Commercial Pilots Association) had alleged that 19 planes were on the ground for want of spares, resulting in huge revenue loss besides massive flight cancellations.

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