Air India to expand fleet with induction of 30 aircraft | The Financial Express

Air India to expand fleet with induction of 30 aircraft

The aircraft being leased include 21 Airbus A320neos, four Airbus A321neos and five Boeing B777-200LRs.

Air India to expand fleet with induction of 30 aircraft
The carrier has signed leases and letters of intent for 25 Airbus narrow-body and five Boeing wide-body aircraft. (IE)

In what would be its first major expansion post the takeover by Tata Group less than eight months ago, Air India on Monday said it will add 30 new aircraft in the coming months which would boost its fleet by more than 25%.

The carrier has signed leases and letters of intent for 25 Airbus narrow-body and five Boeing wide-body aircraft. These will enter service from late 2022. Its current fleet stands at 113 planes, of which 87 or 77% are operational.

The aircraft being leased include 21 Airbus A320neos, four Airbus A321neos and five Boeing B777-200LRs.

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This fleet addition will help Air India meet the need for capacity addition in the short term as its plans of purchasing 200 new planes will take time since both Boeing and Airbus have their order books full.

Air India has not bought a single aircraft since 2006 when it placed orders for 68 planes from Boeing and 43 from Airbus.

The company added that 10 long-grounded narrow-body and 6 wide-body aircraft have been returned to service and will join the operational fleet in early 2023.

Air India further added that the B777-200LRs will join the fleet between December 2022 and March 2023, and will be deployed on routes from Indian metro cities to the US.

After the resumption of regular flights post the easing of the Covid-19 restrictions, there has been a significant spike in demand for the US-India sector but since Air India, the biggest international carrier, was under the sale process, no expansion of routes was done.

Air India clarified that Mumbai will see the addition of flights to San Francisco as well as to both of the New York area’s international airports, Newark Liberty and John F Kennedy, while Bengaluru will receive a three times a week service to San Francisco.

These aircraft will result in Air India offering premium economy haul flights for the first time.

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The four A321 aircraft are expected to join the fleet in the January-March of this year. The 21 A320 will be inducted in the second half of 2023 and will be deployed on domestic sectors as well as to short-haul international destinations.

Commenting on the fleet expansion, Campbell Wilson, CEO and managing director, Air India, said, “After a long time without significant growth, Air India is delighted to resume expanding its fleet and global footprint”.

“These new aircraft, together with existing aircraft being returned to service, address an immediate need for more capacity and connectivity, and mark a strong step forward. Air India has exciting expansion and renewal plans, of which these new aircraft are just the beginning,” Wilson added.

Air India’s narrow-body fleet currently stands at 70 aircraft, of which 54 are in service; the remaining 16 aircraft will progressively return to service by early 2023. Similarly, the company’s wide-body fleet currently stands at 43 aircraft, of which 33 are operational. The rest will return to service by early 2023.

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