In 2018, Vistara had placed an order for 6 Boeing 787-9 aircraft, along with an option for four more of the same model. As time progressed, it turned out the first six aircraft on order, the first of which is on the assembly line in Everett at the moment (January second week, 2020), are all going to be configured to be able to fly about 8-10 hours. All of them are going to have 299 seats, per various filings, and these first six are not going to have any crew rest areas built-in. On a more extended-haul flight such as 13-16 hours, two sets or more of crew fly and one rests while the other is on active duty. The airline has plans to fly them to destinations such as London and Tokyo, each of which would take one rotation of one aircraft to fly.
Vistara had kept their options open on the other 4, and may have perhaps planned to take them further. USA and Australia are some destinations have come through as various speculated options. For this, they will need the crew-rests to be able to fly double set of crew.
Then back in October 2019, news surfaced that four Boeing 787-9 aircraft had turned out of the paint shop in Vistara colours. This move led us to believe that Vistara may have moved up the timeline of the delivery of aircraft from Boeing to capitalise on the lack of international long-haul capacity outside of India.
While everyone including this website speculated, neither Vistara nor Boeing issued any official statement on a transaction concerning these four widebodies. The accelerated timeframe has also passed, and Vistara has not taken delivery of these aircraft, and now per various sources, the first of Vistara’s own 787-9 is in the assembly stage. This makes us conclude that Vistara may have passed along those aircraft, which could have been for various reasons, including the fact that they may not have been up to Vistara’s own standards. To say it differently, Vistara may have wanted not to buy aircraft configured to a different airline’s configuration.
Anyhow, a Bangladeshi business newspaper reports that Biman Bangladesh is now planning to purchase four new 787-9s. As per the Business Standard (of Bangladesh, not India):
Biman Bangladesh Airlines plans to purchase six more brand new aircraft as part of its fleet expansion plan with a view “to becoming one of the best carriers” in Asia.
The aircraft are four Dreamliners and two Dash-8s.
It further goes on to state,
The plan to purchase new four Dreamliners came after an Indian airline company failed to make its payment to Boeing company against the aircraft it had earlier ordered for itself.
Against such a background, Boeing proposed that the government purchase these already prepared aircraft.
Though the decision is yet to be finalised, Biman is considering purchasing them if it gets the aircraft at a lucrative price as in the case of its earlier two Dreamliners.
In October, Biman took the decision to purchase the two Dreamliner aircraft at half price at short notice after getting an offer from Boeing.
Biman got the two aircraft at a cheap price after the China-based Hainan Airlines cancelled its order for two Dreamliner 787-9 aircraft owing to its financial crisis.
The two new Dreamliner aircraft joined the Biman fleet in December last year, raising the total number of Dreamliners to six.
Many things add up here, and many which don’t. Biman recently purchased two NTU (not taken up) 787-9 aircraft which were earlier designated for Hainan Airlines. One of these was being paraded by Boeing with the Boeing Employees livery and visited Dubai Airshow as late as November 2019.
Per the report, Boeing seems to want to hand out these four airframes at the earliest to any willing buyer, and when Vistara may have chosen not to progress with these aircraft, they may have been offered to Biman. The claims that an Indian airline could not pay for them to be taken with a pinch of salt, of course at the moment.
If Biman chooses to accept these four aircraft, they may be getting them at bargain prices. They will most probably also work out for them, given they already have two aircraft in their fleet which was designed and fitted to Hainan Airlines specifications but not taken up by the airline, given their financial troubles at the moment. The Business Class is reverse herringbone, and they also have a premium economy cabin on board.
This move, if not speculation, would also mean that Vistara did not bite on Boeing’s offer to sell these aircraft to them, and will continue with its plan to induct the 787-9 aircraft over 2020 and 2021.
What do you make of the current situation with these four 787-9 aircraft which can’t seem to find an owner at the moment?