Today it was reported by The Financial Express where the 20th 787-8 signals a sea change for Air India as it considers converting its remaining 787-8 orders into 787-9 orders. Air India originally ordered 27 787-8's. It remains to be known, if the 7 remaining will be 787-9's or a combination of both. However, it must make a decision by the end of April to gain the earliest slots possible for any 787-9 deliveries with some 2017-2018 slots open.The Financial Express Quotes:
"However, if Air India decides to go with the Boeing 787-9 variant instead of the older version, deliveries will begin only by 2017-18. If the airline decides to go ahead with the older variant, the 787-8, it will get the twenty-second aircraft by November, the twenty-third by December and the twenty-fourth by early 2016.
Maybe Air India was bit by the Hainan bug as it has 30 more 787-9 under consideration for 2021 deliveries. If so an earlier, "Winging It" prediction was true when the news came out Hainan mention of a 30 Airplane purchase in its stock filing notes. Winging It concluded Others would soon follow mopping up available slots for the 787-9 in 2021. See:
cross link: (Hot News Of the Day For Boeing)
"The importance of this intent underscores the order book dynamics that are now in play. A shrinking order book and slots have emerge as the motivation for jumping in with 30 787-9's with order is an urgency by Hainan. The Opportunity index has risen to a level where airlines are now in the backrooms negotiating for the existence of 787 slots. Opportunity index during 2014 was dead, and now after 114 787 deliveries from 2014 proving and the steady start in 2015. The light at the end of proverbial tunnel is well lit for wide body customers like Hainan who has jumped first. Others will follow as the pace will quicken during 2015."
After considering this planning announcement, it stands to reason the change order is far along the process. Earlier in the year, Air India announced, a Sale lease-back (SLB) combo tender open to leasing companies. Air India's proactive financial arrangements for its current fleet indicates future planning is in play where a 787-9 order is imminently in the works.
The only negative, Air India faces is the pause in its fleet expansion plans if it switches the remaining standing order 787-8 converted into 787-9. A two year delay is in play waiting for additional aircraft. It would slow its feet expansion schedule. Other financial considerations could be in play, but not likely at this time. Air India could continue with the scheduled remaining seven 787-8's and then make an additional individual order for a half dozen or more 787-9's within normal order book availability, or as Boeing's backlog would allow. Boeing could be the decider for that type of ordering sequence.
If they offer special discounts on either the optional change order of switching to 787-9's from 787-8's on the remaining unfilled orders, or making an additional stand-alone 787-9 order, it will completed in the next 30 days. Either way Air India seems to struggle with financing from its government or from its own financial worthiness.
However, it has gained a financial improvement from the 787-8 in service, and this could be the tipping point for this "Winging It" speculation. Has the 787-8 done its job turning around Air India's profitability projections enough? Can Air India sustain meeting its commitment for conducting a significant follow-on order, or will it complete a change order instead, on its existing books? If the answer is yes or yes (either way), by the end of April the Air India 787 family of 787 will expand it's fleet dichotomy in seat count and route range.