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Can Air India beat Qatar Airways with the first 787 service to London Heathrow? An all 787 Kangaroo service?

National carrier Air India can expect to take delivery of up to three or four Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners as early as next week, as a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by home minister P. Chidambaram, approved a compensation demand for an almost four year delay in delivery, made by the carrier on the airframer.

After the GoM meeting, India’s civil aviation minister Ajit Singh indicated the proposal will now examined by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) which is meeting today. The exact amount of the compensation has not been publicly disclosed on the grounds of confidentiality. A few years ago former Air India Chairman and Managing Director Mr. Arvind Jadhav, deposing before a parliamentary committee, had indicated a claim amount of $710 million which the airframer strongly opposed.

At present four Dreamliners are sitting on the flight line at Charleston. VT-AND and VT-ANH built at Boeing’s Everett, Washington plant, and VT-ANI and VT-ANJ built at the new Charleston, South Carolina facility. VT-ANJ may not be ready for delivery since it appears to be partially painted, but that was a couple of weeks ago.

Air India 787 first to London Heathrow?

Doha based Qatar Airways has announced its intention to be the first airline to operate a 787 service in to London Heathrow, but has still to take final delivery of its first aircraft.

Air India has a definite plan for operating a Dreamliner on the Delhi London Heathrow route, and has been training and certifying pilots for the 787 for some time. Depending on the CCEA decision and its time-frame, the carrier can take delivery of at least three aircraft as early as this week.

The issue will be overall preparedness. Both airlines need to achieve a certain minimum number of landings in order to build up experience of the crews, cockpit, cabin, ground, etc., and will utilise their first 787s on short haul routes to achieve this goal. Qatar Airways on intra-gulf routes, while Air India on domestic routes.

If Air India girds up, is it possible for them to beat Qatar Airways and be the first airline to offer a 787 service to London Heathrow? Share your thoughts via a comment.

A Dreamliner Kangaroo route

Air India is expected to commence a 787 based service from Delhi to Sydney and Melbourne. Air India sources confirmed this service is expected to operate from the September or October time frame. By this time, Air India will have at least four Dreamliner in its fleet, and by synchronising their New Delhi London service to the Delhi Sydney-Melbourne service, can be the first airline to offer a complete 787 service on the Kangaroo Route, London to Australia.

It will be a tremendous PR coup, one that can reap the carrier significant commercial benefits.

Share your thoughts via a comment.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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