Grounded Air India A321s will be back in the air by December?

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,

Air India Grounded Narrowbody fleet

Air India Grounded Narrowbody fleet

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 wide body fleet grounded

Air India fleet out of action

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 typeAircraft RegisterationStatusAirport Grounded AtLast FlightLast Flight onNotes
A319VT-SCNOperationalKolkataAI 628 NAG-BOMFebruary 7, 2019Back on March 6, 2019 AI 705 CCU-DIB FlightAware shows only 5 flights operated from November 28, 2018 to February 27, 2019
A319VT-SCROperationalMumbaiAI 626 LKO-BOMApril 07, 2019A few one off flights in June and July 2019, back from August 7, 2019
A319VT-SCSOperationalMumbaiAI 662 GOI-BOMFebruary 10, 2019Back on June 29, 2019 as AI 54 BOM-COK
A319VT-SCTGroundedDelhiAI 821 IXJ-SXRJanuary 14, 2019Before that operated AI 812 LKO-DEL on 12-11-2018
A319VT-SCUGroundedMumbaiAI 668 TRV-BOMDecember 26, 2018Operated one-off flight HYD-BOM on March 15, 2019
A319VT-SCVOperationalDelhiAI 1764 DEL-CCUJanuary 17, 2019Operated one-off flight BHO-BOM on March 23, 2019. Back on June 7, 2019 as AI230 CCU-DAC
A319VT-SCXGroundedDelhiAI 628 NAG-BOMFebruary 3, 2019FlightAware shows only 5 recorded operated flights since 13-11-2018
A321VT-PPLOperationalHyderabadAI 542 HYD-TIRFebruary 2, 2019Accident 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
A321VT-PPMOperationalDelhiDEL-BOM (Cancelled)June 21, 2018Back on May 8, 2019 as AI 91 BOM-AMD
A321VT-PPNGroundedHyderabadAI 541 TIR-HYDJanuary 29, 2019
A321VT-PPTOperationalMumbaiAI 683 BOM-GOIAugust 11, 2018Back on March 8, 2019 AI 618 HYD-BOM
A321VT-PPUGroundedMumbaiAI 665 DEL-BOMSeptember 20, 2018
A321VT-PPWGroundedMumbaiAI 614 AMD-BOMApril 3, 2019
A321VT-PPXGroundedDelhiAI 806 BOM-DEL (Cancelled flight on November 28, 2018)Maybe July 22, 2018 as AI 630 NAG-BOM
A320VT-EDCOperationalDelhiAI 820 BDQ-DELFebruary 19, 2019Back on July 2, 2019
A320VT-EDFOperationalDelhiAI 840 HYD-DELFebruary 13, 2019Back on March 20, 2019 AI 439 DEL-MAA
747-400VT-ESPOperationalMumbaiAI 5226 MED-BOMSeptember 18, 2019Back on March 9, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL
747-400VT-ESOOperational MumbaiAI 966 HYD-BOMMay 28, 2019AI 1
747-400VT-EVAGroundedMumbaiAI 191 DEL-BOMMay 13, 2019
747-400VT-EVBOperational MumbaiAI 966 HYD-BOMJanuary 29, 2019Back on June 24, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL
777-300ERVT-ALOGroundedMumbaiBOM-BOMAugust 9, 2018
777-300ERVT-ALUOperationalNagpurAI 1469 DEL-NAGSeptember 22, 2018Back on June 6, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL
787-8VT-ANBOperationalMumbaiAI 349 DEL-BOMJanuary 7, 2019Back on May 24, 2019 as AI 31 BOM-AMD
787-8VT-ANGOperationalMumbaiAI 331 BKK-BOMApril 7, 2018Back on May 22, 2019 as AI 31 BOM-AMD
787-8VT-ANJGroundedMumbaiAI 865 DEL-BOMOctober 9, 2018
787-8VT-ANKOperationalMumbaiAI 331 BKK-BOMJuly 8, 2018Back on April 6, 2019 AI 330 BOM-BKK
787-8VT-ANMGroundedMumbaiAI 863 DEL-BOMJanuary 2, 2019
787-8VT-ANNOperationalMumbaiAI 349 DEL-BOMFebruary 25, 2019Back on April 13, 2019 AI 310 BOM-DEL
787-8VT-ANOOperationalMumbaiAI 315 DEL-BOMApril 28, 2019Back on July 12, 2019 AI 687 BOM-DEL
787-8VT-ANUOperationalDelhiAI 121 DEL-FRA Suffered mid-air decompression.March 6, 2019Back 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. 

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