By Will Lee
Air India Expands Fleet Size and Staffing to Bolster Operations
Recently, Air India announced an enhancement of its flight capacity by leasing 30 new aircraft. The airline signed leases and letters of Intent for 30 aircraft, including 21 Airbus A320neos, four Airbus A321neos and five Boeing B777-200LRs. The new aircraft are expected to be delivered as soon as December.
“After a long time without significant growth Air India is delighted to resume expanding its fleet and global footprint,” Campbell Wilson, the airline’s CEO and Managing Director said.
The airline’s latest move is the first significant fleet expansion after being acquired by the Tata group this year, the number of aircraft will increase by 25 percent, not counting 16 aircraft that returned to the skies recently. Air India currently owns 128 aircraft. However, the airline didn’t provide the price tag of the new aircraft.
The new flight could improve its services to North America. Earlier, the airline increased its flight frequencies from New Delhi to Vancouver, Canada.
According to Air India, the new Boeing B777 will be operated the route from Mumbai to North American cities, including San Francisco, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark, N.J. Also, Air India is set to operate a three-times-weekly service from Bangalore, India to San Francisco with the new Boeing B777. In addition, the airline will introduce Premium Economy class on long-haul flights for the first time — allowing the passengers can taste a better service without breaking the bank. According to local media, Vistara is the only carrier currently offering Premium Economy in the country.
Meanwhile, four Airbus A321neos are expected to be delivered by the first quarter of 2023, while 21 Airbus A320neos will join the fleet in the second half of 2023. The new 25 aircraft will be operated on domestic services and short-haul international routes. It is believed that Air India can bolster its capacity to compete with other carriers, such as Indigo and Vistara.
“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,” Wilson added.
In addition, Air India will hire trainee pilots and cabin crew for the Airbus A320 and Boeing 777 to expand its workforce. This expansion comes after the travel demand surge in the country.
Since Tata took over Air India, the airline has decided to extend its retirement age for pilots from 58 to 65 and improve the airline’s on-time performance (OTP). Earlier, the report showed its OTP was left behind — compared to other Indian carriers.
Meanwhile, the flag carrier has announced that it will increase flight operations to Qatar — the host country of the FIFA World Cup — which take place in November. The new scheduled flight will enter service from Oct. 30 to Dec. 27.