Jet Airways over the past few weeks has updated its schedule to reflect the deployment of all ten B777-300ER (B77W) aircraft. This will probably be the first time when all 10 aircraft will be effectively used for long haul operations.
The current published schedule which sees utilization scale up close to 17 hours each day for the B77W fleet will also see the average stage length at 6268 kms. Eight out of ten aircraft will see full utilization with only the runs to Hong Kong from Mumbai and Delhi will see below average utilization.
Each of the 10 B77W of the airline have seen service with other carriers either on wet lease or dry lease or in some cases both. The first of this aircraft was inducted in the fleet in April 2007 while the tenth one joined the fleet in February 2008. The expansion plans were affected by the financial meltdown of 2008-09. The airline which was under a heavy debt load sold 24% stake to gulf carrier Etihad in April 2013.
The aircraft have been away from the Jet Airways fleet from anywhere between five months to thirty-one months and been with Turkish Airlines, Gulf Air, Thai Airways and equity partner Etihad.
From November 2008 to December 2016, the airline never operated its full fleet for its own services. Since December’16 the airline has been utilizing the aircraft for short haul international routes to Singapore from Mumbai in addition to few routes in Gulf. With pressure on yields for the Gulf routes, heavy competition and dropping of yields from airlines in the gulf and increased presence of Indian low cost carriers vying the Origin – Destination traffic to gulf markets.
This is the only aircraft in its fleet which has a First Class. The airline had put up all its fleet of B77W for sale in April 2015 but did not result in any outcome. The airline had re-configured its aircraft in economy class from 9 abreast to 10 abreast installing the smaller 17” seats in late 2012.
The airline faces challenges from multiple fronts with wide body deployment. The product is dated as compared to Thai Airways and Singapore airlines for deployment in the East and margins are wafer thin for deployment in the gulf, thus the airline is left with its Amsterdam hub and routes to London where it competes with British Airways and Air India from Mumbai while Delhi sees competition from Virgin Atlantic in addition to Air India and British Airways.
If the electronics ban imposed on certain carriers including the middle eastern ones continues for a long time, it needs to be seen if the airline will re-enter the American market and will the airline start investments in upgrading the product on its long haul fleet to better compete with competition. For now, it looks there will be some stability after years of confusion.