If complaints about aircraft spare parts shortages were a competitive sport, Air India chief executive Campbell Wilson’s story would be tough to beat.

”We’re noticing it most acutely because we had 13 [Boeing] 787s grounded for many years as a consequence of Air India not having the funds to pay for spare parts, [so it was] robbing aircraft to keep others flying,” Wilson said on a panel at the IATA AGM in Istanbul on 5 June. 

”There were 30,000 spare parts we needed to procure to get these aircraft up and running.”

Air India Boeing 787

Source: Soos Jozsef/shutterstock

He clarifies that total does not include cabin materials.

Asked how exasperated he was at discovering the scale of work needed to get the twinjets back into the air, Wilson jokes: “That was probably the fourth such thing that came across my desk that morning.”

Wilson is leading newly-privatised Air India into a new era under the ownership of Tata Group. 

Supply constraints are a hot topic at the AGM, with most airline chief executives complaining of worsening aircraft maintenance and delivery delays.