Air India is upping its short-term expansion from 30 to 42 aircraft.
Air India has doubled down on its current expansion plans, adding 12 more aircraft to its fleet. By the 1st half of 2023, the carrier plans to add 6 more Boeing 777-300ERs and 6 Airbus A320neos aircraft in addition to the 30 already planned for lease.
Air India add 12 more Aircraft
Less than three months after declaring that Air India would add 5 777-200LRs and 25 A320s to its fleet, the carrier’s biggest expansion in years, we now have details of another deal. According to the reports, Air India has secured 12 more jets for delivery in the next few months, 6 777-300ERs and 6 A320neos, due by the 1st half of 2023.
Details on where the aircraft will be sourced from are yet to be revealed, but the 777s will come in a four-class layout of 1st, business, premium economy, and economy, with the premium economy a first for the airline. These planes will be headed long-haul, potentially to North America, and frees up the 787 for more medium-haul missions.
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The 6 A320neos are nearly certainly headed for domestic operations, where Air India has set itself the lofty goal of ruling 30% of the market in 5 years. This decision was made a bit easier by the decision to merge Vistara into the flag carrier, which will double its share of the national market, but still leave a lot of work to do.
In a statement, Air India CMD Campbell Wilson stated,
“Growing our network is an essential part of Air India’s Vihaan AI transformational journey and we stay committed to increasing connectivity and frequency of flights both domestically and internationally. These additional aircraft leases will support our near-term development even as we finalize plans to refresh and significantly grow our long-term fleet.”
Notably, Air India has opted to maintain fleet commonality, for now, only leasing jets that it already has trained pilots and crew members ready for. While it is looking to hire foreign pilots for the 777, it has remained true to the 777-300ER, 777-200LR, and 787-8s for the first round of development. For narrowbodies, Airbus reigns supreme, with an all-A320 operation at the Maharaja.
However, this may not stay for too long either. As hinted in Wilson’s statement above, the addition of 42 new aircraft is only part of the near-term fleet vision. To triple the fleet from 115 aircraft to nearly 350, a massive aircraft order is currently in the works involving both Boeing and Airbus. Therefore, the addition of a new aircraft type is not out of the question and is very likely in the coming year.
For now, Air India’s decision to add 42 more planes in the next 18 months is an important step for several reasons. The 1st is that it can start offering a new cabin product, especially in business class, without costly retrofits, solving 1 of the biggest problems.
The 2nd is ensuring rapid expansion both domestically and internationally, giving it momentum as it battles the giants of the industry.
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