The delivery schedule for Air India’s Boeing 787 fleet sets a rapid pace for the carrier, which expects to have all 27 of the type on order by March 2016.

According to India’s Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, the national carrier, which received its first 787 Sept. 10 after a long delay, will receive five more 787s by December, seven more in 2013, five in 2014, six in 2015 and the final three in 2016.

The 787s are part of a total of 111 aircraft ordered by Air India and then-Indian Airlines from Boeing and Airbus. Air India ordered 68 from Boeing in December 2005, and Indian Airlines ordered 43 from Airbus in February 2006. Air India and Indian Airlines merged in 2007 to form Air India Ltd.

The final 787 will be delivered by March 2016, says Singh, adding that a government committee has been convened to consider adding more aircraft to Air India’s fleet to increase its market share.

Air India plans to start operating the first 787 on domestic services Sept. 19. Service to Europe and Australia will follow in November and December as Air India adds a sufficient number of 787s to provide long-haul services.

Meanwhile, the beleaguered national airline reduced its second quarter net losses by 5.6 billion rupees ($101 million) to 17.3 billion rupees, says Singh, adding that “for the first time since the merger [of Air India and Indian Airlines] in 2007, Air India has made a cash surplus of 480 million rupees.”

The national carrier posted a cash deficit of 5.86 billion rupees in the corresponding period last year, Singh says.

Singh adds that 29 billion rupees had been given to the airline under a 40 billion rupees budgetary allocation made for 2012-13.

“The rest of the amount will also be injected soon. We are also going to issue non-convertible debentures worth around 70 billion rupees in a few weeks’ time.”

The cash-strapped airline has a debt of about 212 billion rupees as working capital loans, 220 billion rupees as long-term loans on fleet acquisition and an accumulated loss of 203.20 billion rupees since 2007.

787 photo: Boeing