Air India utilising group airlines' engineering skills for improved aircraft maintenance works

NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Jun 9 (PTI) Tata Group-owned Air India is utilising the engineering skills available with group airlines to carry out more maintenance work of the aircraft under its own quality control amid multiple instances of its legacy planes facing operational issues, according to a senior company official.

The official also said the airline is keen to lease aircraft but the market is very tight, especially for wide-body planes.

After the takeover by the Tata Group in 2022, loss-making Air India has been making efforts for improvement and has embarked on a five-year transformation plan.

To address the engineering issues more effectively, the official told PTI that Air India is bringing the work of line maintenance component in-house as well as using the licensing and skills of the group airlines to do some things in certain types of aircraft.

Such an approach will help Air India in doing more "maintenance work under our own quality control", the official said on condition of anonymity.

Air India is setting up a maintenance base in Bengaluru and the facility will be operational by the end of next year.

The group has four airlines -- Air India, Air India Express, AIX Connect (formerly AirAsia India), and Vistara.

The systematic upgrade is being done to bring some aircraft to the healthy standard. These are old Boeing 787s and 777s, the official said, while speaking on the sidelines of the IATA annual general meeting in Dubai this week.

The Boeing 777-200 LRs are the smallest fleet and ones that operate to the West Coast of the US. When something goes wrong with one of them, then there is relatively few to substitute and do that mission. One disruption can have a big effect, the official said.

In recent weeks, at least four ultra long-haul flights of Air India, operated by Boeing 777 aircraft, faced inordinate delays due to technical and operational issues.

Air India has at least 43 legacy wide-body planes -- 16 Boeing 777s and 27 Boeing 787s.

Earlier this week at a conference in the national capital, Air India CEO and MD Campbell Wilson said the airline will be retrofitting more than 100 planes, including 40 wide-body planes, and has ordered around 25,000 aircraft seats as part of revamping the fleet.

On plans to lease more aircraft to address the issues being faced with legacy planes operating ultra long-haul flights, the official said the airline will be happy to lease aircraft but the market is very tight, especially for wide-body aircraft.

At present, the carrier is also operating wide-body aircraft leased from Delta Air Lines and Etihad Airways.

While the airline sees continued opportunities for expansion, the official said it is also aware about the unreliability of the legacy aircraft and efforts are on to get them to the standard as well as replace them with new planes.

Last year, Air India placed an order for 470 planes with Airbus and Boeing, including for 70 wide-body aircraft.

The carrier is already operating six A350s, which will be utilised more in international routes in the coming months.

As part of the consolidation of Tata Group's airline business, AIX Connect is getting merged with Air India Express, and Vistara is getting merged with Air India. Both mergers are expected to be complete by the end of this year. PTI RAM IAS TRB