Air India’s new owner Tata Group seems eager to invest millions after revealing plans to expand the major Indian airline’s fleet by more than 25%. Tata took control of the carrier in January 2022.
The airline has signed leases and letters of intent (LoI) for 25 Airbus narrow-body and five Boeing wide-body aircraft, which are due to enter service in late 2022.
The Delhi-based carrier selected 21 Airbus A320neos, four A321neos, and five Boeing 777-200LRs, with the aim of addressing Air India’s “immediate need” for more capacity, according to airline’s chief executive Campbell Wilson.
“These new aircraft, together with existing aircraft being returned to service, mark a strong step forward. Air India has exciting expansion and renewal plans, of which these new aircraft are just the beginning,” Wilson said.
The first major fleet expansion since privatization
Wilson outlined that the arrival of new planes will mark the first major fleet expansion since the Indian government sold Air India’s shares to Tata Group. Delivery of new aircraft will come in addition to 16 long-grounded airline planes that will be gradually removed from storage to meet the increase in passenger demand for air travel post-pandemic.
The carrier estimates that all 16 planes will return to active service by early 2023.
According to the preliminary delivery schedule, the first five Boeing 777-200LRs [long range, editor, -] are expected to join the fleet between December 2022 and March 2023. These aircraft will be used to operate routes from Indian metro cities to various destinations in the United States.
Meanwhile, the four A321s are expected to arrive during the first quarter of 2023, Air India said.
The 21 A320s are expected to be handed over in the second half of 2023, the carrier added.
The planes will serve domestic airline flights and some short-haul international routes.
Air India currently operates a mixed fleet of 70 planes narrow-body and 43 wide-body aircraft.