State-run Air India will add as many as 50 aircraft to its existing fleet in the next five-six years as it looks to expand its operations, both domestic and international, in its quest to turn profitable by flying to more destinations and carrying more passengers.
The airline, which currently has 102 aircraft in its fleet, excluding that of its subsidiary Alliance Air, plans to increase its fleet size to 152 by 2021. “As per the government-approved turn around plan Air India is required to raise its fleet size to 152 by 2021. Since it can’t go for outright purchase, it will be leasing these aircraft from lessors,” a senior official of the airline told FE.
Air India fleet currently consists of 38 Boeing and 62 Airbus aircraft. With the ratio between the airline’s wide bodied and narrow bodied aircraft at 1:2, the carrier’s fleet consists of about 34 wide bodied aircraft, including 20 Boeing 787-8 (Dreamliner) and 15 Boeing 777 aircraft, and 68 narrow bodied aircraft including Airbus 320, Airbus 321, Airbus 330 and Boeing 747s. The airline will induct the remaining seven Boeing 787 (Dreamliners) from the original order of 27 Dreamliners, placed to Boeing in 2006, by 2016-17.
“Air India is planning to lease 14 Airbus A 320 neo (new engine option) and ceo (current engine option) aircraft. The A 320 Neo will be inducted into the fleet by 2017 while A 320 Ceo will be inducted by 2016,” the official added.
The airline had earlier in November 2014 leased 5 Airbus 320 from a Chinese firm.
At present, the average age of Air India’s fleet is 8.5 years, while that of its new fleet, from the 111 aircraft order placed in 2006, is 5 years.
Air India is looking to expand its long-haul operations, especially on high density routes such as North America, Australia and Europe. The airline is also hoping to maximise revenues by increasing frequencies on busy domestic and international routes, apart from improving operational efficiencies across these routes.
“The percentage of passengers from home sky flying internationally on Indian carriers constitute merely about 20-25% of the total passengers.
This number stands at about 50% for American and middle eastern carriers,” the senior Air India official said.
“If Indian carriers like Air India doesn’t increase its fleet and connectivity to international destinations, they stand a chance to lose traffic to foreign carriers,” the official added.