Air India to turn 747-400s into cargo jets

Air India to turn 747-400s into cargo jets

Mumbai: State-run carrier Air India plans to convert all its Boeing 747-400s into cargo jets and place orders for new, large aircraft to replace them after 2011.

Indicating this, Air India chairman V. Thulasidas said the large aircraft would either be double-decker Airbus A-380 or Boeing 747-8. Air India, which is now expanding its fleet by getting 111 Boeing and Airbus aircraft for domestic and international operations, may consider acquiring at least 60 more aircraft for its expansion beyond 2011.

The present order of 68 Boeing and 43 Airbus aircraft would be completed by 2011, Thulasidas said, adding the fresh order would have to be placed within the next six months to ensure deliveries from 2011-2016. As both Airbus and Boeing are fully booked for the next 3-4 years, “we will have to place orders in six months," he said.

However, no final decision has yet been taken on the number of aircraft nor on purchase of the Airbus A-380. But unlike last time, “we will certainly go in for large aircraft this time," he said.

“After due diligence and a decision on the types and number of aircraft, the (Air India) board will have to approve the decision before we send it to the civil aviation ministry for its approval," he said.

Air India, which had 16 Boeing 747s, is currently operating 12 of them as it has phased out all the Boeing 747-200s. By March, it would be phasing out two more Boeing 747-300s. Currently, it operates eight Boeing 747-400s.