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Etihad Airways and a German airlines leasing company will separately bid for Air India's five longest-range jetliners
According to a Gulf News report, a source said that the two bids were being evaluated by Air India and would be submitted to its board for approval. The entire sale process could take a few months and would need approval from India’s civil aviation ministry. Cameroon Air, which had earlier expressed interest in the jetliners, has reportedly not submitted a bid.
Air India is replacing the Boeing 777-200 Longer Range (LR) planes, which are less efficient to operate on shorter routes, with the more modern and less fuel thirsty Boeing 787. Air India has eight 777-200LR planes. The 777s entered the airline’s fleet in 2007 and 2008 as it targeted ultra-long-haul flights from India to the US West Coast. But Air India soon discovered that many Indian passengers opted for cheaper flights to the US that would include a stopover in Europe or the Middle East, Gulf News reported.
The Indian carrier put five Boeing 777-200 LRs up for sale. It tried to lease the planes in 2011 but found few takers.
A 777-200LR, which Boeing calls the Worldliner, can fly up to 17,395km with a full payload of 301 passengers. The plane remains the longest-range passenger jet ever built. A brand-new 777-200LR reportedly costs around US$296mn.