New Delhi: Air India would get compensated by Boeing for the battery trouble plaguing its latest Dreamliner planes, all of which have been grounded, but discussions on the issue would take place later.
"There will be some compensation. ...Let us wait a while. We will discuss with Boeing only when the things settle down," Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told reporters here.
He ruled out a time-frame for the discussion on compensation saying, "there can't be a last date. Safety is important. (After the problems are fixed) the FAA (US Federal Aviation Administration) has to certify the planes. The DGCA has also to certify them."
Air India CMD Rohit Nandan also said, "We have an understanding that we will be compensated."
"We are already operating the Boeing 777s on these routes (earlier by operated by Boeing 787 Dreamliners). Whatever be the differences between the operating costs, we may get it," Nandan said while refusing to put in any figures.
All the 50 Dreamliners delivered by Boeing to airlines across the world, including six of Air India, have been grounded following two incidents of fire and smoke in the lithium ion batteries.
Asked about Air India's financial performance and cash flow, Nandan said it has improved considerably.
"Despite the grounding of the Dreamliners since January and a two-month strike by pilots last year, we expect to be EDIBTA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) positive this financial year.
"... It will be better than what has been projected in the Turnaround Plan and we hope to declare net profit before 2018," he said.
If Air India's financial results are positive, it would be for the first time in the past five years, Nandan said.
Between April 2012 and this January, Air India's revenue from passengers increased 8.3 percent, load factor (number of occupied seats on an aircraft) increased to 71.8 percent from 68.5 percent, yield (revenue per passenger per km) was up 19.2 percent and the number of passengers carried was higher by 3.4 percent, the AI chief said.
On AI's plans to sell off five Boeing 777-200s, he said, "We have an offer for all the five planes" but refused to disclose anything further on grounds of commercial secrecy.