Air India to seek compensation from Boeing

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Air-IndiaNEW DELHI: With the snag-prone Boeing 787 Dreamliners not proving as fuel efficient as Boeing had claimed they would be at the time of selling them to Air India, the airline is now going to seek compensation from Boeing on this count. Sources say if Boeing fails to pay adequate compensation on the failure of the “deal-clinching” promise of fuel consumption, AI could even consider not inducting more Dreamliners into its fleet.

“The Dreamliner’s actual fuel consumption pattern over 18 months of usage (discounting the four months they were grounded globally last year) and the difference in what Boeing claimed would be this aircraft’s fuel efficiency will be the basis of estimating the compensation to be sought from the aircraft manufacturer,” said a senior official.

The aircraft’s way below claimed fuel consumption comes from the fact that the final product was much heavier than what Boeing had assumed it would be at the time the Dreamliner was on the drawing board. “It was supposed to be 17% more fuel efficient than the Airbus A-330 but has so far been only 13%-14%. The B-787 was supposed to be 37% thriftier than the B-777 but has been consuming 28-30% less than the fuel guzzlers. AI’s fuel uplift has not gone down as the Dreamliner has not been as fuel efficient as it should have been,” said a senior official.

AI has so far taken delivery of 12 of the 27 Dreamliners ordered. Sources indicated that future induction could depend on Boeing either living up to its “deal-clinching” offer of this aircraft’s fuel efficiency or giving AI adequate compensation for failing to do so. “We will review the performance standards of this aircraft as was originally agreed,” said aviation minister Ajit Singh.

Senior airline officials say the matter of B-787’s below par performance came up at the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs where the matter of compensation offered by Boeing for the over three-year delay in the aircraft’s delivery to AI was discussed. “The failure to live up to the performance guaranteed for the Dreamliner has become an issue now. The FM P Chidambaram-headed CCEA wants this issue to be settled with Boeing,” said an official.

AI is ‘disappointed’ with the Dreamliner as the aircraft was supposed to be the “game-changer” for it in terms of improving on time performance and revenue generation. But with unending snags, the aircraft’s despatch reliability has become suspect. “None of the snags faced on this plane so far have a bearing on safety. But the delays, cancellations and diversions (as the plane is not yet certified to land in fog in India) have led to huge expenses in terms of putting up passengers in hotels and have earned us passenger ire,” said an official.