Air India to make substantial investment in “historic” aircraft order


NEW DELHI: Air India will make substantial investments in a historic aircraft order as it prepares for long-term growth model, chief executive officer and managing director Campbell Wilson said.

“We are in deep discussion with Boeing, Airbus and engine manufacturers for an historic order of the latest-generation aircraft that will power Air India’s medium and long-term growth. At the risk of gross understatement, the investment will be substantial,” Wilson said at the JRD Tata Memorial Trust event in Mumbai.

The airline is also working on restoring some older planes which are currently grounded. In addition, the full-service carrier has finalised leases for 30 aircraft which will be delivered over the next 12 months. The delivery of these 30 planes will commence next week and the airline is set to lease more aircraft and is in final stages of negotiation for the same, Wilson said.

The Tata Group had acquired Air India and Air India Express under a government-led strategic divestment programme in January this year. The Tata Group also runs Vistara in partnership with Singapore Airlines in a 51:49 venture. Recently, it also took complete control of AirAsia India after the exit of AirAsia from the venture. The Tata Group has already announced merger of Air India Express and AirAsia India to make it a single low-cost model and is working on a consolidation between Air India and Vistara to make a single full-service airline. The two kinds of model are expected to be on one single platform of brand Air India.

“We will increase our market share to at least 30% in domestic India and on international routes to and from India, multiples of our current share. We will take a leadership position in technology, sustainability, and innovation. And we will attract the best talent by becoming India’s employer of choice,” Wilson said.

The airline will focus on fixing the basics over the next six months, and will work on building for excellence in the subsequent year.

“And by April 2024 or thereabouts, we will leverage the work done in the earlier phases to Climb rapidly, so that by 2027 we have scaled the heights of our aspiration,” Wilson said.

The company wants to build a global loyal customer base, become a leader in safety, reliability, punctuality and trust, is working on building a compelling employee proposition and further wants to become pioneers in technology, sustainability, and innovation. Simultaneously, it also aims to continue being commercially efficient and deliver good returns to the shareholders.

Air India has restored 20 aircraft that had been grounded for years due to lack of parts and lack of money and is also working on replacing carpets, curtains, seat cushions, covers, seats and in-flight entertainment systems. The airline is also set to launch new non-stop service to San Francisco, New York and Newark from Mumbai in a few weeks.

Wilson said that 2023 will be an exciting year for Air India and the airline no longer has financial constraints. Bullish on Indian aviation potential, he said that India is on the cusp of an aviation boom and it will take a progressively larger role in the global aviation industry.

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