A few days ago, Air India announced their fleet augmentation plans. As a part of the plan, Air India intends to induct five Boeing 777-200LR aircraft (it was earlier stated that these would be for two years). These aircraft are intended to be a stop-gap measure while Air India thrashes out its long-term fleet strategy and hopefully orders the Airbus A350, which is supposed to be the top choice for the long run.
However, what Air India was quiet on was where are these aircraft going to come from. Since only 61 Boeing 777-200LRs were ever built, it is not very hard, however, to keep track of where these were going to come from. Out of the total 61, only 43 are currently active, and Air India had three of those (which it intends to sell). But perhaps one of the biggest tranches of these aircraft was at Delta, which, after a rather lavish refurbishment of their 777-200LRs, decided to scrap the fleet (thanks to the pandemic) and convert the aircraft into Freighters.
Here are these aircraft, with the fantastic Delta One product in Business Class, which has doors and was one of the first airlines to add doors to the J Class.
Delta Business Class (Delta One) aboard their 777-200 aircraft (source: Delta)
However, it seems there is still some life left in these fantastic machines, and Delta is handing out five of these aircraft to Air India in the coming days. N702DN, which was in storage in Victorville, and moved back to Fort Worth in February 2022, flew after exactly six months over to Singapore and landed there yesterday, as per flight tracking website Radarbox.
The aircraft is over for a paint job, and many plane spotting websites already show it as due for delivery to Air India. What is not clear, however, is if the aircraft will carry the same hard product or if it will get the orange and red seats that Air India carries across the globe. We will have to wait and see about that, and I feel the cost of getting a retrofit done will be too much for a short-term lease. The next aircraft due to go into paint is N706DN.
Co-incidentally, Delta used to fly between New York and Mumbai pre-pandemic using one of their 777-200LRs. Unfortunately, with the geopolitical situation and so on, they have not decided yet to return to Mumbai.
Air India is taking on a set of aircraft from Delta to supplement its fleet for a couple of years. These aircraft will be former Delta 777-200LR and will be used by Air India to fly between Mumbai and San Francisco as well as to both of the New York area’s international airports, Newark Liberty and John F Kennedy, apart from Bengaluru – San Francisco 3 times a week. These aircraft will result in Air India offering Premium Economy haul flights for the first time.
What do you think of Air India’s move to induct Delta’s 777s?
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