MIAMI – Flag carrier Air India (AI) will not phase out its Boeing 747 aircraft just yet, stated a Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mr. V K Singh.

Although there were several rumors earlier this year about AI getting rid of its last few Jumbos, the statement by the minister is clear.

The Covid pandemic has seen airlines accelerate aircraft retirements and the Boeing 747 is one of the major casualties along with the giant A380 which has nearly hit the grave.

“As of date, there are four Boeing 747-400 aircraft in Air India fleet and their average age is about 26 years,” Singh stated.
“three of the four B747 aircraft are under maintenance checks,”

“At present, Air India has no plan to phase out the operation of Boeing 747 from the fleet,” he stated.

AI’s Brief History with the Boeing 747

The Boeing 747 has an ever long history with Air India. The flying “Maharaja” has been operating the type for 50 years, from the 747-200B in 1971 to the 747-400 at present.

Currently, AI has 4 Boeing 747-400 (VT-EVA, VT-EVB, VT-ESP, and VT-ESO) of which only 3 are in flying condition. All the jumbos feature a 3 class configuration- 12 in First class, 26 in Business class, and 385 in Economy. Back in the day, with its classic livery, the AI jumbo would be spotted at all major airports right from Los Angeles (LAX) to Zurich (ZRH) to Tokyo (NRT), but the recent past with just four aircraft has seen a big decline in operations.

A year ago, when India received two brand-new Boeing 777-300ER named “Air India One”, the 747-400 (mostly VT-EVA and VT-ESP) were used for VVIP flights that flew the Indian Prime minister and the President around the globe. While on normal commercial duty, the aircraft was mainly deployed on high passenger density routes such as Mumbai (BOM)-Delhi (DEL) on the domestic side and Mumbai (BOM) -Hyderabad (HYD) – Jeddah (JED) on the international.

The statements made by the minister bring in a few more years for the Jumbos, giving av geeks and passengers who haven’t flown this majestic aircraft another chance.

Featured image: Air India, Boeing 747-8 VT-ESN. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways