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Tata Group-owned Air India on Monday said it has leased six more wide body B777300ER planes to expand its international flight operations.
This is in addition to 30 planes—21 narrow body A320neo, four narrow body A321neo and five wide body B777-200LR—the carrier leased in September this year.
The 30 planes leased in September are expected to be inducted in the airline's fleet by 2023-end and the other 6 by June 2023.
The Tata group and Singapore Airlines (SIA) announced last week that Vistara will be merged into Air India to create a single full-service airline, with SIA holding a 25.1 share in the new entity. AirAsia India is already in the process of merging into Air India Express to create a single low-cost subsidiary of Air India.
Air India has been focusing on its international expansion during the last few months.
In December, the carrier is scheduled to operate 809 international flights per week, which is about 22 per cent more than what it operated in June, according to aviation analytics company Cirium's data.
Air India itself has a fleet of 114 planes. With the addition of 36 leased aircraft (30 leased in September plus 6 leased now), the airline's fleet will increase to 150 planes by 2023-end.
On Monday, Air India said: "These (six B777300ER) aircraft are expected to be inducted in the first half of 2023."
"Air India’s B777-300 ER will have four-class configuration of First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy, and will be deployed to connect Indian metro cities with more international destinations," it added.
A wide body plane has a bigger fuel tank, allowing it to operate non-stop on longer routes such as India-US and India-Canada.
Campbell Wilson, CEO & Managing Director, Air India, said, “These additional (six) aircraft leases will support our near term growth even as we finalise plans to refresh and significantly grow our long-term fleet.”
Brendan Sobie, of consultancy firm Sobie Aviation, said that in the international market, Air India is in a sweet spot due to slow restoration of international capacity to India by many foreign airlines, partially due to Russian airspace issues and partially due to the overall global issues impacting airlines.
"Air India can access Russian airspace, which particularly gives it an advantage on long haul flights to North America, and does not have some of the manpower or other issues that airlines face in other markets," he said.
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First Published: Mon, December 05 2022. 15:02 IST