Air India has received delivery of another former Etihad Boeing 777 jet. Now, the airline has a fleet of a total of 25 Boeing 777s, including 16 Boeing 777-300ERs. In its updated route map, the airline has announced its intent to start flights to seven more international destinations.
Air India Latest Boeing 777 Delivery
Air India has received the delivery of its latest Boeing 777 aircraft. This is the fourth former Etihad airframe to be inducted by Air India. The aircraft bears registration as OE-IUG. Soon, it will be registered with DGCA and will bear an Indian registration: VT-AEM. It has been named – Sarika. “Sarika” is an Indian name that can mean grace, beauty, or the beauty of nature. It is frequently linked to a bird (myna or starling).
Talking about its history, the Boeing 777-300ER with Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 39868 and Line Number 1019 conducted first ever test flight on 30th May 2012. The aircraft was subsequently delivered to Etihad Airways on 28 June 2012. From June 2012 to September 2020, Etihad Airways operated this aircraft.
Grounding & Delivery
After this, it was parked in Abu Dhabi for around one and a half years before being ferried to Victorville for long-term grounding. In 2022, Air India signed a lease agreement with Altavair AirFinance to lease this jet for a period of two years. It was ferried to San Bernardino International Airport on 21 November 2023 for repainting in Air India’s old livery. As the aircraft is a stopgap measure, it is getting the old livery instead of the new one. On 11 January, the aircraft was ferried from San Bernardino to Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.
Because of a long trip, the aircraft stopped midway at Belgrade Nikola Tesla International Airport for a refueling stop. After which, it departed for Hyderabad. This is the first time that Air India received a widebody delivery to Hyderabad. RGIA has a huge MRO and paintwork hangar. The aircraft will most probably undergo registration sticker change at these hangars.
This is the fourth former Etihad Boeing 777 delivered to Air India. These aircraft have a premium cabin with 8 First Class, 40 Business Class, and 280 Economy Class Seats. Two more aircraft are currently at San Bernardino International Airport for paintwork.
With this new aircraft, the airline is looking to add flights to destinations in the United States of America. In the updated route map on its website, the airline has made its intent clear to start flights to seven new destinations. This includes three destinations in the USA: Los Angeles, Seattle, and Dallas-Fort Worth. Apart from this, the airline will start flights to Rome, Zurich, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta.
In internal communications with Air India staff, there are rumors that the airline will start five times weekly flights to Dallas in February month. Feb launch seems uncertain but there is a high chance that the airline can add these services to the Summer Schedule. Air India recently launched a flurry of international services. The airline launched flights on the Mumbai to Melbourne route. The Delhi to Phuket route also kickstarted in December.
As per Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Air India has also applied for slots at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport for direct flights connecting the Philippines to Delhi & Mumbai.
Pic Credit: Aleksa Vladisavljevic