Getting Its 787s Back Won't Save Air India

Even after a bailout, the carrier can’t pay all its bills
An Air India Boeing 747-400 aircraft stands on the tarmac as another lands at the international airport in Mumbai Photograph by Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

When Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was grounded in January after fires involving its lithium batteries, few airlines were more rattled than Air India. The financially ailing carrier has based much of its turnaround plan on the fuel-sipping all-composite jetliner. Only a few months earlier it had begun flying the aircraft on long-haul international routes meant to lure business flyers traveling to, and through, the subcontinent. Lucrative long-haul flights have helped turn Middle East carriers such as Emirates into major global airlines. Yet even though Boeing’s battery fix has been approved by regulators and the Indian carrier’s six 787s could return to service as early as May, there’s still turbulence ahead for the airline.

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