Air India grounds 20 aircraft due to lack of funds for replacement engines

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Mumbai - Air India grounded 20 aircraft due to lack of funds to replace the engines. That means almost 16 percent of the Indian flag carrier's fleet is out of operation.

The debt-ridden state-owned airline has been surviving with government support for very long. The grounded planes are unlikely to return to service before October if no extra fund injected by the government. The airline needs $100 million for the replacement engines.

Air India's fleet comprises 127 aircraft, of which 45 are Boeing widebody jets serving on the long-haul routes of the airline and 82 are the Airbus A320s operating on the carrier's medium-haul and regional routes.

Last year, 19 aircraft of the airline had also been grounded due to lack of spare parts and resulted in massive flight cancellations.

Air India was planning to lease five Boeing 777 from the bankrupt Jet Airways but the company dropped it since there are no funds available for such an operation. The company said it has found it commercially not viable due to huge maintenance requirement for these planes.

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The priority of the national airline is now to get its grounded planes to the service as soon as possible.

According to the Indian newspaper Economic Times of India, the airline has a nearly $7 billion debt to various creditors and it's increasing. That debt could bring the end of the airline, which has not made a profit since it merged with Indian Airlines in 2007.