AI to resume Dreamliner flights next week, replace 19 planes

New Delhi: Air India on Tuesday decided to resume next week domestic operations of the Dreamliner aircraft, grounded for four months due to a battery problem, and replace 19 aged Airbus A-320s with new leased ones.
The Air India Board, which met here, was briefed about the progress of making changes in the batteries of six Boeing 787 Dreamliners, owned by Air India, airline sources said.
While the first domestic flight of the Dreamliner would take place next week, the national carrier would fly to the first international destination by the third week of May, they said.
A team of Boeing engineers and those from Air India have been replacing the new packages of the lithium ion batteries.
The battery sparks in two of these aircraft owned by Japanese airlines had led to the grounding of 50 Dreamliners worldwide mid-January.
The Board also decided to replace 14 AI-owned and five leased aircraft, which are 20-22 years of age. The leased aircraft would be returned to the lessors while those owned by Air India would be phased out gradually.
The process, likely to start from the third quarter of this financial year, would require about 10-12 months to be completed, the sources said.
With these replacements, the airline would have a narrow- body fleet size of 62 aircraft.
The new aircraft of the A-320 family — that is A-319s, A-320s and A-321s, would have 180 seats in an all-economy configuration. These would replace the old planes which had both business and economy classes.
The Board also approved harmonised service regulations for all employees of Air India, who were so far governed by different service rules of the erstwhile Indian Airlines and pre-merger Air India.