In response to a number of articles in the Indian media, Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) has issued a statement denying plans to retire its fleet of B747-400s in the near-term.

"The B747 will continue to remain an integral part of our fleet," the airline said.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Air India currently operates four B747-400s, although three of them have been in storage since last year. The only unit active in 2021, VT-EVB (msn 28094), has been parked at Delhi Int'l airport since February 28, 2021, prompting rumours that the Boeing quadjets would not return to service.

According to the ch-aviation schedules module, Air India does not plan to operate any scheduled flights with the B747s through March 28, 2021. After that, the aircraft are scheduled to be deployed on select services between India and Saudi Arabia, as well as between Mumbai Int'l and Hyderabad Int'l.

Air India did not provide any further information regarding the potential reactivation of the aircraft or their eventual retirement. The four B747s are 25.7 years old on average. They have been used for a mix of scheduled, mostly domestic flights, and government charters in a VIP configuration. However, in 2020, Air India took redelivery of two B777-300(ER)s, VT-ALV (msn 36320) and VT-ALW (msn 36321), outfitted with VIP cabins and in special government liveries, for the exclusive use of state functionaries.

The Times of India has reported that while the decision to formally phase-out the B747s has yet to be taken, Air India's officials are hoping to sell around ten spare Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines for around USD2 million each.

The ch-aviation fleets history module shows that Air India reached its peak fleet of twelve B747-400s in 2005-2006. For the last seven years, only four units of the type have remained in its fleet. It retired its only B747-400(M) in 2008, the only B747-300(M) a year later, and all B747-200s through 2006.