Air India to increase fleet by more than 25%

This fleet expansion will involve both single- and twin-aisle jets from different manufacturers

The Indian flag carrier has revealed it will lease 30 new aircraft – enabling it to boost operations “over the next 15 months”.

These are to comprise five Boeing 777-200LRs, along with 21 and four Airbus A320neo and A321neo examples, respectively.

The widebodies are scheduled to arrive with Air India between December and March 2023. Once in service, the airline has confirmed these 777-200LRs – which are to feature Premium Economy – are to operate routes to the United States with, for example, additional flights touted from Mumbai to San Francisco and New York’s John F Kennedy and Newark airports.

Meanwhile, the quartet of A321neos are billed to join during the “first quarter of calendar year 2023” followed by the 21 A320neos from the second half of that year – these types will be rostered on both domestic and short-haul international links.

This Air India Airbus A320neo, VT-CIN (c/n 8202), is photographed in March 2022
This Air India Airbus A320neo, VT-CIN (c/n 8202), is photographed in March 2022 Flickr Commons/Anna Zvereva

Campbell Wilson, CEO and managing director, Air India, 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.”

Alongside the incoming leased jets, the flag carrier had previously reactivated 16 existing airframes for return to service in recent months.

Air India currently fields a fleet of 113. Of these, 54 out of 70 narrowbodies are operational at the time of writing, while 33 widebodies from a 43-strong contingent are active – the company anticipates the remaining aircraft are to return to service by “early 2023”.

Founded by JRD Tata, Air India conducted its maiden flight in October 1932 before later being nationalised in 1953. Following 69 years as a government-owned enterprise, Air India – along with Air India Express – were reacquired by the Tata group in January 2022.