Air India is relying less on its Boeing 747-400s for long-haul operations because of the fleet’s high operating costs and hopes to improve its international operations with the introduction of new 787 aircraft.

“The average daily utilization of Boeing 777 and Airbus A320 aircraft by Air India are comparable to the average utilization of aircraft by the major developed countries,” says Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh. “However, the utilization of 747-400 aircraft is being kept low due to its high operating cost.”

Air India aims to normalize its international operations, which were badly hit by a two-month pilots strike, by the end of August. The recent strike forced the carrier to cancel several profit-making international flights as well as domestic routes, causing a loss of about 6 billion rupees ($108 million) for the already cash-strapped airline, the minister says.

Meanwhile, Air India is hoping to take delivery of the much-delayed Boeing 787. The airline has ordered 27 Boeing 787s, and the first three are expected to be delivered this month.

The new aircraft will initially fly domestic routes, the minister said. Thereafter they will be deployed on medium- and long-haul routes to Malaysia and Australia.

As of June, Air India owned 20 777s and three 747-400s, as well as two Airbus A330-200s on dry lease for its widebody international operations.

787 photo: Boeing