Air India is About to Massively Expand Its Fleet

Hundreds of new aircraft will be delivered, with the first ones entering service before the end of this year.

An Air India Airbus A320neo aircraft. (Photo courtesy of Airbus/P. Pigeyre)

With Tata Sons’ overhaul of Air India now in full swing, the airline’s large-scale transformation is progressing to the next stage with what may well be a record-breaking deal in commercial aviation history. The company has signed letters of intent with Airbus and Boeing to acquire no less than 470 new wide-body and single-aisle aircraft. This order comprises 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing 787s, and 10 Boeing 777-9s, as well as 210 Airbus A320/321 Neos and 190 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Tata Sons and Air India Chairman, N. Chandrasekaran, said in a statement that acquiring a modern, efficient fleet was “an important step in realizing Air India’s ambition… to offer a world-class proposition serving global travelers with an Indian heart.” He added that the new order would allow for the dramatic expansion of the airline’s global network and the renewal of its onboard product.

Air India says the first of its new aircraft will enter service in late 2023, though the bulk of them are not scheduled to arrive until the middle of 2025 and beyond. In the meantime, the carrier has already started taking delivery of 11 leased B777 and 25 A320 aircraft to accelerate its network expansion.

Featuring completely new cabin interiors, the new acquisitions will complement Air India’s ongoing effort to refit its existing Boeing 777s and 787s with new seats and inflight entertainment systems. The upgraded aircraft are due to enter service from mid-2024.

This development comes just a few months after the announced merger of Air India with Vistara, a successful joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines. Low-cost subsidiaries Air India Express and AirAsia India are also being combined, with the aim of streamlining the Air India Group to comprise just single full-service airline and one budget carrier.

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