New hope is in the air for Air India. No, it’s not related to government permission for foreign carriers to invest in domestic airlines that came on Friday. Airline FDI is expected to benefit private carriers with far lesser financial problems than the nation al carrier.
Air India’s hope is about 186-foot long, boasts a top speed of up to 560 miles an hour and flies at least 9,440 miles (New York to Hong Kong) non-stop tanked up. It is a plane alright, but because of its ostentatious title, Dreamliner, and unique futuristic features, it would be easy to overlook that bit.
The 787-series Dreamliner is billed as a plane like no other, but in this part of the globe, it acquires a greater aura. Air India is the fifth airline to snap up the 787. But no other airline has entwined its future to a plane as the government-run carrier has with the Dreamliner.
When it embarks on its maiden flight on September 19 from Delhi to Chennai, the 787 will be carrying a load of expectations that would outweigh all the 256 passengers it can accommodate.
“We hope that the Dreamliner will take Air India back to its good old Maharaja (mascot) days,” aviation ministerAjit Singh said when the first of the 27 planes the carrier has ordered landed on Wednesday.
Singh’s excitement is understandable. The 787-series Dreamliner is the first mid-size airplane that can fly long routes, enabling airlines to tap non-stop routes, according to Boeing. Translation: passengers can avoid the pain of an airport transit.
By BINOY PRABHAKAR,ET BUREAU