India’s aviation minister said Thursday ailing Air India should be entitled to “reimbursement” from US giant Boeing after the state-owned airline’s fleet of Dreamliners was grounded over safety concerns.Air India suspended operations of its fleet of Boeing Dreamliners on Thursday along with many other airlines around the world until a fire risk linked to the plane’s batteries is fixed.
“I am sure this (grounding) will entitle Air India to some reimbursement,” aviation minister Ajit Singh told India’s NDTV network.
Singh did not name any figure, saying India would have to “wait until we get some clarity on the issue”.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all US-registered Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft Wednesday to address the potential battery fire risk and issued a security advisory alerting international aviation authorities.
Air India and Boeing had earlier concluded negotiations for an undisclosed sum in compensation over a four-year delay in delivery of the Dreamliner to India because of production problems at the company.
Indian officials had said they were seeking up to $1 billion in compensation for the delays but neither side has disclosed whether the money has been paid.
Air India bought 27 Dreamliners as part of a 2005 multi-billion-dollar deal. It received the first plane last September and now has six with the remaining 21 due to arrive by 2016.
Boeing’s troubled next-generation model has suffered a series of glitches, although Boeing insists the plane is safe.
“We have asked Air India to ground all six Dreamliners after getting an advisory from the FAA citing safety concerns,” Arun Mishra, the director-general of civil aviation, told AFP.
K. Swaminathan, a spokesman for Air India, told AFP the carrier would await approval from Indian regulators before putting the Dreamliner back into service.
The 27 Dreamliners are part of a total 111 planes ordered by Air India from Boeing and Airbus to rejuvenate its ageing fleet and turn around the airline’s loss-making operations.
The Dreamliners have been expected to reduce Air India’s fuel costs because of their lighter weight.
“We can’t say when we will allow it to fly again — it depends on when Boeing gives us satisfaction over safety concerns,” Mishra said.
Copyright (2013) AFP. All rights reserved.
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