air india
Air India will start Kochi-Dubai flights from 11 January 2016, Picture: Air India flight [Representational Image]Reuters

Ailing Air India is likely to turn profitable for the first time in more than four years, helped by a reduction of costs due to a slew of factors like cheaper fuel prices and increased capacity from Dreamliner operations, among others.

The state-owned carrier is expected to post an operating profit of about Rs 6 crore in the current fiscal year, its first since the merger of Indian Airlines into Air India in February 2011.

"The Dreamliners (Boeing 787-800) are helping the company to turnaround it's business in a big way," said Anil Mehta, the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Air India Chairman and Managing Director.

Currently, the national carrier has 21 Boeing 787-800 aircraft and each Dreamliner plane can carry 256 passengers in single flight compared to 195 seat capacity in older aircraft.

"These (Dreamliner) aircraft have reduced our operating costs and increased our operating revenues in recent years... we will post an operating profit in the range of Rs 6 to Rs 7 crore this year," PTI quoted Mehta as saying.

An increase in Dreamliner capacity is enabling Air India to improve its operational efficiencies as the carrier can carry more passengers per flight.

"Such increase in seat capacity is a decisive factor in this business, as we are now able to take more passengers in single flight," he said.

Besides, the airline has benefitted from falling global crude oil prices just like other carriers such as SpiceJet and Jet Airways, which have cut down their operational costs due to a sharp decline in aviation turbine fuel price (ATF).

"Fuel price is the single largest cost for airlines, especially in India where fuel cost is high. So any drop in fuel cost will benefit the industry significantly," SpiceJet COO Sanjiv Kapoor had said in July.

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