Individuals can argue over who has lost more face as a result of Air India’s last-minute cancellation of its first Boeing 787 delivery: the U.S. airframer or the cash-strapped flag carrier and its masters in the Indian government.
Cash-strapped national carrier Air India, beset by a two-week strike by more than 200 pilots, has canceled service to more than 20 international destinations and is suffering losses of approximately $2 million a day. The strike, which resulted in the termination of 71 pilots, has not affected domestic and short-haul international flights, said a spokesperson.
Judging by the dominance of business jets at India Aviation 2012, held at Hyderabad in southern India from March 14 to 18, predictions of double-digit general aviation growth in the country have inspired manufacturers and service providers to boost their presence in the market.
India’s ailing airliner sector was conspicuous by its absence from the third biennial show, barring a static display of the Boeing 787 in Air India’s colors and a mock-up of the Russian Irkut MC-21 airliner. Instead, a spurt of announcements relating to India’s business aviation sector lifted spirits.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh argued for reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank April 27 during a brief speech celebrating the rollout of the first 787 Dreamliner from Boeing’s new final assembly facility in North Charleston, S.C.
Calling it an issue that “really hurts,” Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson used a keynote speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., to explain why Delta opposes U.S. Export-Import Bank loan guarantees that help foreign carriers buy Boeing airplanes.
In a reversal from an earlier policy, which gave state-owned Air India preference over bilateral aviation agreements for international routes, the Indian government will now open access to private airlines.
Even though the year ended with doom and gloom, the Indian air transport sector couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to 2012 with its largest budget carrier, IndiGo, signing a memorandum of understanding for the biggest commercial aviation deal in history valued at approximately $15.6 billion. The deal, which was subsequently firmed up, called for 180 of Airbus’ A320 family narrowbodies. This topped an earlier order by the carrier for 100 aircraft and seemed a clear indication that the Indian market is back on track after suffering severe losses during 2008- 2009.
A controversy is raging over the safety practices of India’s airlines following the partial “leak” of a financial audit from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The report indicated that poor safety practices may be endemic in the Indian air transport sector.
Shares in cash-strapped Indian carrier Kingfisher Airline fell by almost 18 percent on November 18 as company chairman Vijay Mallya worked to secure new short- and long-term funding amid reports of further routes being cut and flights cancelled. On November 17, Mallya confirmed that he is negotiating with an undisclosed high-net-worth individual in India with a view to injecting approximately $250 million into Kingfisher.
Boeing will deliver Air India’s first 787 Dreamliner by the fourth quarter, Boeing India president Dinesh Keskar said yesterday at Aero India. The announcement follows Boeing’s January announcement of the first delivery of Dreamliner aircraft to All Nippon Airways in the third quarter.