The Telegraph
Monday , October 1 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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AI lease offer no-show

New Delhi, Sept. 30: Air India has been unable to find any takers for the five Boeing 777-200LRs that it is offering on lease as part of a turnaround strategy.

The national carrier, which floated the tender for the fourth time since January offering five out of its eight Boeing 777-200LRs on dry lease for six to 10 years, has till now not found any takers because of inadequate seat configuration.

Under dry lease, just the aircraft is leased as opposed to wet lease where the aircraft and crew are leased.

“We have had floated tenders before, but have not managed to get any response to them. This time around the last date of submission of quote has been kept till October 16. We hope this time around we will receive bids. We have been told that the seat configuration is an issue though,” said a senior Air India official. Air Canada had initially shown interest in leasing the aircraft but later dropped the idea.

The national carrier has been trying to lease these aircraft following its decision to operate the 787 Dreamliners in their place. The first of the 27 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, ordered in January 2006, arrived in early-September and is currently operating on domestic routes.

The eight B777s are part of Air India’s 67 aircraft order from Boeing over six years ago, which it received between 2007 and 2009. The order also included the Dreamliners.

According to AI officials, these aircraft have only 238 seats, while the international seat capacity for such types is between 290 and 300.

“This is what is making them less viable to probable bidders. We had opted for such a seat configuration as we wanted to provide better services on long haul flights,” added the official.

The dry lease of these aircraft is part of Air India’s financial turnaround plan. In place of these aircraft, the national carrier will use the B787 for long-haul travel.

Meanwhile in a major boost to the Air India, international airlines body IATA (International Air Transport Association) has renewed the airline’s safety audit certificate of its ground operations at the Mumbai airport.