Mumbai: Jumbo jets will soon be history at Air India, as the national flag carrier plans to phase out its remaining six 747 aircraft manufactured by Boeing Co.
From 25 October, state-run Air India will replace these 430-seat planes, first flown commercially in 1970, with new Boeing 777s on its long-haul flights.
Making history: The 430-seat Air India 747 planes will be replaced by the new Boeing 777 from 25 October. Tannen Maury / Bloomberg
Jitender Bhargava, executive director, corporate communications, at National Aviation Co. of India Ltd that operates Air India, confirmed the development.
The airline will, however, retain three of these iconic aircraft for special flights for the country’s President and Prime Minister. The remaining are likely to be sold.
“It’s a legendary aircraft for Air India. Air India’s image was very much linked with these big and beautiful red jumbos,” said V. C. John, an avid traveller and retired teacher based out of New Delhi. He flew several times on Air India’s 747s to Amsterdam. The “Boeing 747 was a prestigious statement of Air India. I hope now Air India will buy A380s”.
The A380, a double-deck, four-engine and wide-body plane manufactured by Airbus SAS, is currently the the world’s largest passenger airliner. The A380, also known as the superjumbo, began flying in 2007.
The six 747 planes Air India is grounding were bought between 1993 and 1995. They belong to the 747-400 series, the latest version in service, which have a cruising speed of 913km per hour.
Air India bought its first 11 jumbo jets in 1971, which belonged to the 747-200 series, also known as Jumbo Classics. The 747s were named after Indian emperors.
The 747s are not as fuel efficient as newer aircraft and have lost their appeal for passengers, Bhargava said. “Everything has a life and cannot continue flying eternally.”