Air India’s financial situation needs no introduction. They have been underutilising their fleet, and grounding aircraft for lack of spares. While they stick the label of maintenance, the lack of spares is a direct result of a lack of cash to buy them. They even took to scavenging aircraft earlier (removing parts from some aircraft to fit into another one). While IndiGo can’t find enough planes to fly, there are many Air India A321 grounded for months now.
As of now here is the inventory of aircraft out of action,
Reports are that Air India will reactivate the grounded narrowbody fleet and roster them back in service. All Air India A321 will be operational by December 2018 according to the airline. However, Air India has not announced any new A321 routes apart from two redeye flights and a functional change in one route to Singapore for a couple of months.
They did manage to operate all routes even with 15% of their narrowbody fleet grounded in September 2018. Since then, they have added Bengaluru – Bangkok, Kolkata – Bangkok and Jaipur – Kolkata on an Airbus A321, Delhi – Nanded on an Airbus A319 and will operate Ahmedabad – Bengaluru on an Airbus A319. Between September and November, 3 Airbus A319 and 2 Airbus A321 aircraft were already back in service. Wonder where the 6 Airbus A321s will fly.
I know Air India will operate an Airbus A321 on Mumbai – Singapore and Chennai – Singapore route till January 27, 2018. But it is doing so by replacing the Boeing 787s that operates the route. Jet Airways is also switching to narrowbody operations on the Mumbai-Singapore route.
Is it a similar case with Air India’s widebody fleet too?
Apart from the narrowbody fleet, Air India also has several widebody aircraft out of action. Well, unlike the narrowbody fleet, we don’t know when the widebody aircraft will be back in the air. Most of them are undergoing maintenance for quite a few months now.
Air India does take a lot of time for maintenance. One such example is VT-ANO (Boeing 787). It went out of service on May 18, 2018, after completing a New Delhi – Mumbai flight. It returned to service on October 27, 2018, on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. The aircraft was out of service for more than five months. VT-ANK, another Boeing 787 has been out of service for more than four months now. That is a long time for maintenance.
As a point of comparison, a heavy C/D check on a Boeing 777-300ER takes approximately two months.
|Aircraft type||Aircraft Registeration||Status||Airport Grounded At||Last Flight||Last Flight on||Notes|
|A319||VT-SCN||Operational||Kolkata||AI 628 NAG-BOM||February 7, 2019||Back on March 6, 2019 AI 705 CCU-DIB FlightAware shows only 5 flights operated from November 28, 2018 to February 27, 2019|
|A319||VT-SCR||Operational||Mumbai||AI 626 LKO-BOM||April 07, 2019||A few one off flights in June and July 2019, back from August 7, 2019|
|A319||VT-SCS||Operational||Mumbai||AI 662 GOI-BOM||February 10, 2019||Back on June 29, 2019 as AI 54 BOM-COK|
|A319||VT-SCT||Grounded||Delhi||AI 821 IXJ-SXR||January 14, 2019||Before that operated AI 812 LKO-DEL on 12-11-2018|
|A319||VT-SCU||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 668 TRV-BOM||December 26, 2018||Operated one-off flight HYD-BOM on March 15, 2019|
|A319||VT-SCV||Operational||Delhi||AI 1764 DEL-CCU||January 17, 2019||Operated one-off flight BHO-BOM on March 23, 2019. Back on June 7, 2019 as AI230 CCU-DAC|
|A319||VT-SCX||Grounded||Delhi||AI 628 NAG-BOM||February 3, 2019||FlightAware shows only 5 recorded operated flights since 13-11-2018|
|A321||VT-PPL||Operational||Hyderabad||AI 542 HYD-TIR||February 2, 2019||Accident at Tirupati Airport. Before that operated last flight AI 24 DEL-BOM on 12-01-2019. Back on July 27, 2019 as AI 661 BOM-GOI|
|A321||VT-PPM||Operational||Delhi||DEL-BOM (Cancelled)||June 21, 2018||Back on May 8, 2019 as AI 91 BOM-AMD|
|A321||VT-PPN||Grounded||Hyderabad||AI 541 TIR-HYD||January 29, 2019|
|A321||VT-PPT||Operational||Mumbai||AI 683 BOM-GOI||August 11, 2018||Back on March 8, 2019 AI 618 HYD-BOM|
|A321||VT-PPU||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 665 DEL-BOM||September 20, 2018|
|A321||VT-PPW||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 614 AMD-BOM||April 3, 2019|
|A321||VT-PPX||Grounded||Delhi||AI 806 BOM-DEL (Cancelled flight on November 28, 2018)||Maybe July 22, 2018 as AI 630 NAG-BOM|
|A320||VT-EDC||Operational||Delhi||AI 820 BDQ-DEL||February 19, 2019||Back on July 2, 2019|
|A320||VT-EDF||Operational||Delhi||AI 840 HYD-DEL||February 13, 2019||Back on March 20, 2019 AI 439 DEL-MAA|
|747-400||VT-ESP||Operational||Mumbai||AI 5226 MED-BOM||September 18, 2019||Back on March 9, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL|
|747-400||VT-ESO||Operational||Mumbai||AI 966 HYD-BOM||May 28, 2019||AI 1|
|747-400||VT-EVA||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 191 DEL-BOM||May 13, 2019|
|747-400||VT-EVB||Operational||Mumbai||AI 966 HYD-BOM||January 29, 2019||Back on June 24, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL|
|777-300ER||VT-ALO||Grounded||Mumbai||BOM-BOM||August 9, 2018|
|777-300ER||VT-ALU||Operational||Nagpur||AI 1469 DEL-NAG||September 22, 2018||Back on June 6, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL|
|787-8||VT-ANB||Operational||Mumbai||AI 349 DEL-BOM||January 7, 2019||Back on May 24, 2019 as AI 31 BOM-AMD|
|787-8||VT-ANG||Operational||Mumbai||AI 331 BKK-BOM||April 7, 2018||Back on May 22, 2019 as AI 31 BOM-AMD|
|787-8||VT-ANJ||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 865 DEL-BOM||October 9, 2018|
|787-8||VT-ANK||Operational||Mumbai||AI 331 BKK-BOM||July 8, 2018||Back on April 6, 2019 AI 330 BOM-BKK|
|787-8||VT-ANM||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 863 DEL-BOM||January 2, 2019|
|787-8||VT-ANN||Operational||Mumbai||AI 349 DEL-BOM||February 25, 2019||Back on April 13, 2019 AI 310 BOM-DEL|
|787-8||VT-ANO||Operational||Mumbai||AI 315 DEL-BOM||April 28, 2019||Back on July 12, 2019 AI 687 BOM-DEL|
|787-8||VT-ANU||Operational||Delhi||AI 121 DEL-FRA Suffered mid-air decompression.||March 6, 2019||Back on May 31, 2019 as AI 20 DEL-CCU.|
In the airline business, a plane makes money only when it is in the air. Other airlines push their aircraft utilisation, putting them in the air for 14-15 hours, and Air India has them on the ground. What a terrible state of affairs.