Air India to phase out all its Boeing 747 jumbos

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Indian flag carrier Air India is considering significant changes to its fleet. The airline reportedly will follow other air carriers’ steps as it is planning to phase out its entire fleet of Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

Air India reportedly plans to withdraw the whole of its Boeing 747 aircraft fleet, a senior official familiar with a matter confirmed by local media on March 9, 2021. According to the latest data update, the airline has temporarily parked all 4 of its Boeing 747-400 jets, including VT-ESO, VT-ESP, VT-EVA, and VT-EVB aircraft. The board of Air India will decide the fate of the four jumbos during the next meeting, the date of which has not yet been made public.

“We are planning to phase out the jumbo jets. The final decision will be taken by the AI board, possibly in its next meeting. The planes are over 25 years old on an average and will be scrapped,” a senior official reportedly disclosed to the local media.

A person familiar with a matter also revealed that the residual value of the four jumbos “lies in the about 10 engines of these 747s that could fetch about $2 million apiece.” The airline’s oldest Boeing 747, registered as VT-ESO, joined the Air India fleet in 1993 and was in service for 27.3 years. Another jumbo jet, the VT-ESP, also called “Ajanta”, was flying for 26.7 years, while the other two, the VT-EVA and VT-EVB, were operating for more than 24.3 years.

Air India started operating Boeing 747 jumbo jets in early 1971 when it received the first  747-200B aircraft named Emperor Ashoka. For the last two decades, Air India 747s were operating commercial long haul flights on Delhi – London, Frankfurt – New York, and Frankfurt – Los Angeles routes.

The four current 747s had been mainly used for VIP flights and regular commercial operations. In 2020, the government of India decided to relinquish the old 747s. In the same year, the first specially equipped Boeing 777 was added to the Air India One fleet. The new aircraft was dedicated to operating government flights transporting the country’s Prime Minister and other senior officials. 

The government of the country is still waiting for the second Boeing Triple Seven. Both new 777s will be refurbished and equipped with the Self-Protection Suites as well as the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures, a special system designed to protect large aircraft from man-portable missiles for VIP flight missions. 


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