Air India’s plans to operate the first direct flight between Mumbai and New York’s John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport could be delayed because the airline does not have the aircraft or the crew to go ahead with operations.
According to senior airline officials, Air India, which had plans to commence the non-stop flight from this month, was planning to use a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to fly to New York on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Currently, there are no direct connections to JFK Airport from Mumbai.
The airline’s other non-stop flight to Frankfurt from Mumbai, which was suspended in 2010, is being re-launched from October 16. When contacted, the Air India spokesperson did not respond Hindustan Times.
A senior airline official said that Air India had not issued an official announcement for the commencement of flight operations to JFK airport.
The airline has direct connectivity to Newark from Mumbai and currently operates direct flights to Washington, New York and San Francisco from New Delhi and to Chicago from Hyderabad via Delhi.
The official said, “Not only are four aircraft currently grounded, but a heavy investment for the commencement of commercial operations on the route is essential. The management is reviewing intricate details.”
Air India has 16 Boeing 777 planes, of which four are currently grounded, because of unavailability of spare parts.
In August this year, the pilot’s union of erstwhile Indian Airlines (which merged with Air India) in a letter to the airline’s chairman and managing director (CMD) Pradeep Kharola, said around one-fourth of Air India’s fleet has been grounded due to lack of spares. “A significant number of flights had to be cancelled/rescheduled on daily basis and 40% of the Airbus A321 fleet was grounded at various stations for lack of spares,” the letter mentioned.
The aircraft – ER is for ‘Extended Range’ – has increased fuel capacity and higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and range of over 7,000 nautical miles, which makes it ideal for long-haul flights.