Melbourne will be the first Australian city to receive scheduled 787 service when Air India deploys the aircraft on its new Delhi-Melbourne route in October.
“Direct flights to Australia are the top priority for us. The route will be profitable for Air India and is a key ingredient of the turnaround plan,” an Air India official told Calcutta’s The Telegraph.
Air India’s eagerness is contrasted by Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan, who told the Australian this week that direct flights to India were a decade away.
Air India is also plans to deploy the 259-seat 787, in an undisclosed configuration, on North American routes, such as to New York and Toronto.
The article says “plans are in place” for daily flights to Melbourne from Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai, but it is not clear what the operational routing of the flight will be. Some international Air India routes have tag-on services to other domestic ports.
Air India over its saga of trying to serve Melbourne has mooted using Airbus A330 and, more recently, 777-300ER equipment. The 787 offers cost advantages over older aircraft, although with the aircraft overweight the exact advantage percentage is unknown. Deploying the 787 could suggest Air India needs the aircraft to achieve sufficient economics on the route.
Air India has 27 787 aircraft on order. This week Boeing brought a test aircraft to India for demonstration purposes.