Tata-owned Air India in talks with Boeing and Airbus to buy A320 Neo, B777 aircraft

Much has changed for airlines since Air India’s ‘gharwapsi’ in January. Air India has grown tremendously since the acquisition, from taking off on time to improving inflight services. The airline, which is owned by Tata, is moving forward and is in talks with several aircraft manufacturers to purchase aircraft as Air India plans to triple its fleet compared to its current size, a senior executive confirms. Since its acquisition of Air India in January this year, Tatas has unveiled a comprehensive transformation plan to revitalize the loss-making airline. The plan focuses on five factors: market leadership, robust operations, commercial efficiency, best talent in the industry and exceptional customer experience.

Air India Chief Financial Officer Vinod Hejmadi said the airline is currently in the “taxi phase” and it will take two years before it takes off, consolidates and enters growth mode. “During the transformation of Air India, we are looking for a 30 percent market share over the next five years and we plan to expand our aircraft fleet to three times what we have now… We look forward to making it happen. to ensure that we add to the capacity for growth (and) discussions (with aircraft manufacturers) to acquire the fleet,” Hejmadi said.

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Speaking at the Aviation Insurance Symposium 2022 hosted here by Global Insurance Brokers Pvt Ltd, he said it was a matter of survival for the airline in the past, but after the takeover by the Tata group, it is now looking at a growth trajectory.

“We are currently looking at the taxi phase, which is to fix the base, to fix what was wrong in Air India, and after six months we have to look for the takeoff. And that will be about two years.” journey when we take off, consolidate and go into growth mode,” he added. To achieve all this, Hejmadi said the airline is investing heavily in technology, digitalization and manpower.

The airline will introduce five wide-body Boeing and 25 Airbus narrow-body aircraft over the next 15 months. The aircraft being leased are 21 Airbus A320 Neos, four Airbus A321 Neos and five Boeing B777-200LRs, according to a release from the airline on Sept. 15.

Air India’s narrow-body fleet consists of 70 aircraft. Of these, 54 are in service and the remaining 16 aircraft will gradually return to service in early 2023. The widebody fleet has 43 aircraft, 33 of which are operational. The rest will be back in service in early 2023, according to the release. Tata Group has started an exercise to evaluate options to consolidate AirAsia India and Vistara under Air India to create operational synergies.

Tata Group has a 51 percent stake in Vistara and also owns Air India and Air India Express. The group also has an 83.67 percent stake in the domestic airline AirAsia India. Singapore Airlines had said on Thursday it was in “confidential talks” with Tata Group to explore a possible merger of Vistara and Air India.

Meanwhile, Hejmadi said on Friday that Air India welcomes competition, whether it is a duopoly or more than two airlines in the domestic aviation space, as it ensures everyone is on their toes. “And we have to be sharp and the passenger who is the main stakeholder will benefit,” he added.

(With inputs from PTI)

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