Air India has outlined plans to increase its fleet by over 25 per cent in the next 15 months, with the delivery of 30 narrow and wide-body aircraft.
The carrier has signed lease agreement for 25 Airbus A320 and A321 neos, as well as five Boeing B777-200LRs.
The airline said that the move – along with the recent return to service of 16 short and long-haul aircraft – marks Air India’s first major fleet expansion since it was acquired by the Tata Group earlier this year.
The B777-200LRs will join the carrier’s fleet between December 2022 and March 2023, and will operate on routes to the US.
It’s not clear exactly how the aircraft will be configured, but the airline confirmed that the planes will feature premium economy seating. No further details were given on the seat itself.
The Air India press release also announced 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 Bangalore will receive a three-times-weekly service to San Francisco”.
Meanwhile a total of four A321 neos will be delivered in the first quarter of next year, followed by 21 A320 neos in the second half of 2023.
Air India’s operational narrow-body fleet currently stands at 54 aircraft, with a further 16 set to progressively return to service by early 2023, while its widebody fleet stands at 33 aircraft, with ten again set to return to service by early next year.
Commenting on the news Mr Campbell Wilson, Air India’s CEO and managing director, 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.”
Analysis from Business Traveller’s consumer editor, Alex McWhirter
Air India has the advantage over its rivals when flying to the US.
As @Vinamralongani has tweeted, Air India overflies Russian airspace which means it can offer shorter sector times.
Embedded in the tweet is a map with the routings.
Due to the availability of #Russian airspace, @airindiain today offers the shortest flights between India and the US.
While competition has been forced to curtail flights, AI is clearly capitalizing on this advantage and adding leased wide body capacity on the US routes.#AvGeek pic.twitter.com/mFUaBCYvBt
— VT-VLO (@Vinamralongani) September 12, 2022