A Boeing 787 Dreamliner gets a water cannon salute at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Wednesday. A Telegraph picture
New Delhi, July 13: Air India plans to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the Delhi-Melbourne route from October.
Besides Australia, the ailing national carrier is betting big on direct Dreamliner flights to North America from the end of October.
In 2005, Air India had ordered for the Dreamliners, which were due to be delivered in 2007 but got delayed because of production snags.
Boeing today flew in a demonstration Dreamliner to the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi. The test plane from Seattle via Tokyo will fly to Mumbai on Thursday.
Direct flights to Australia are the top priority for us. The route will be profitable for Air India and is a key ingredient of the turnaround plan, said an Air India official.
Plans are in place for daily flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai to Melbourne. The 259-seater, wide-body Dreamliner will be used for medium-and long-haul flights.
Air India has ordered around 27 aircraft for $4 billion, while Jet Airways ordered for around 10 planes.
Air India believes it has an edge over its private rivals as it will be the first to introduce direct flights to Australia.
After Japanese airline All Nippon Airways, which had ordered 50 Boeing 787s, Air India will be the second customer to receive the planes in the fourth quarter of this year.
Air India will perform trials on the aircraft by next month. Training for the Air India pilots will begin next month, said Dinesh A. Keskar, president of Boeing India. The airline also plans to start non-stop flight to Africa where it does not operate at present.
Boeing has received 835 orders from 56 airlines from six continents till May this year, valued at $162 billion.