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June 20, 2024
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Air India is to lease six Airbus A320neo narrowbody aircraft and six Boeing 777-300ER widebody aircraft to further augment its existing fleet. These aircraft are expected to be inducted in the first half of 2023 and will be deployed on Air India’s short, medium, and long-haul international routes. Air India to lease more aircraft as the competition heats up.

The decision to lease twelve aircraft is in addition to the announcement for leasing thirty aircraft announced in September this year, which included leasing 21 Airbus A320s, four Airbus A321s, and five Boeing 777-200LR widebody aircraft. The latest announcement comes on the back of Singapore Airlines agreeing to buy a 25.1 percent stake in the Indian flag carrier. The deal is to be completed by 2024.

The Airbus A320neo’s will be operated on the airline’s domestic/short-to-medium haul international routes. Air India’s 777-300ER will have a four-class configuration of First, Business, Premium Economy, and Economy, and will be deployed to connect Indian metro cities with international destinations.

The airline’s aggressive expansion plan has already witnessed nineteen long-grounded aircraft returning to the skies with nine more to follow, even as the airline has stepped up the lease of narrow and wide-body aircraft. As part of its expansion, Air India has raised the frequency of flights between key cities in the domestic sector and has also announced direct flights between Indian cities and key global destinations like Doha, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Birmingham. Further, Air India is set to commence direct flights from Delhi to key European cities like Milan, Vienna, and Copenhagen, and from Mumbai to New York, Paris and Frankfurt.

More airlines expanding in India

Air India, however, is not the only Indian carrier going in for an expansion. The Indian low-cost carrier, IndiGo, has also announced 32 new connecting flights to Milan, Manchester, Birmingham, Rome, and Venice from December 7 through its codeshare partnership with Turkish Airlines.

Commenting on the announcement, Vinay Malhotra, Head of Global Sales, IndiGo said: “These flights will cater to travelers exploring Italy and UK, with one-stop connections to Milan, Manchester, Birmingham, Rome, and Venice via Istanbul. These new routes will not only strengthen international connectivity but also enhance affordability for travel to Europe. We will continue to strive to stay true to our promise of affordable fares, on-time performance, and courteous and hassle-free service.”

In a sign of the times to come,  new international carriers are adding flights to India while Indian carriers are also launching new international routes. Italy’s ITA Airways’ first non-stop flight between Rome and Delhi landed here on Sunday. The new flight is to operate three times a week.

Similarly, Thai AirAsia started its four times a week service between Lucknow and Don Mueang airport on December 4 while on December 2, Vistara, a joint venture between SIA and Tata Sons, started a four-times-a-week flight linking Pune to Singapore. It also announced a daily flight between Mumbai and Muscat from December 12.

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Ashwini Phadnis
Former Senior Deputy Editor at Business Line (aka The Hindu Business Line)

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