Fleet Substitution: Air India Revamps Airbus Order, Increases Narrow-body Capacity

Fleet Substitution: Air India Revamps Airbus Order, Increases Narrow-body Capacity

DALLAS — Air India (AI) has rejigged its massive order for Airbus aircraft to include more high-capacity aircraft, an announcement from Airbus has stated.

The airline has been undergoing many changes since its recent acquisition by Tata. These changes include one of the largest aircraft orders in history—up to 290 aircraft from Boeing, as well as an additional 250 from Airbus.

Air India’s rebrand has reflected its aims of improving its ability to cater to demand, evident from the increase in larger aircraft being delivered to the airline.

Air India VT-EXM Airbus A320-251N. Alberto Cucini/Airways

Additional Airbus A321neos

Since its first Airbus A321neo entered service in June 2023, AI has reversed the number of narrow-body Airbus aircraft. In the original order, the airline wanted up to 70 Airbus A321s and 140 A320neos; however, the numbers have changed to reflect an increase in the larger aircraft.

The A321neo has an increased range of 600 nautical miles (approximately 1,100 kilometers) compared to the Airbus A320neo. This allows its owners to operate on long-haul, low-demand routes, something that could be effectively used on the Indian subcontinent.

Photo: Rohan Ramalingam/Airways
Photo: Rohan Ramalingam/Airways

Evening the A350 Variants

In addition to the A321neo acquisition, AI has decided to decrease the number of Airbus A350-1000 aircraft it will take on board the fleet. Instead, the order has been rejigged to allow for 20 of the smaller A350-900 variants while still keeping 20 Airbus A350-1000s. This contrasts with what the order was previously, containing six A350-900s and 34 A350-1000s.

In an interview with Business Standard conducted in November, the company’s CEO, Campbell Wilson, stated that he wanted to change how much of the country’s tourists were using carriers other than AI. According to Wilson, the airline chose the Airbus A350 due to its significant change in weight and efficiency compared to the Boeing 777, the aircraft that Air India is currently using for most of its long-haul fleet.

Air India’s rejig is not one that comes as a surprise to many aviation enthusiasts, with the company having regrowth in its sights for several years. However, as the airline’s order is so large, the majority of deliveries will not happen for some time. This will allow the airline to have flexibility when changing its order book for the foreseeable future. With the airline’s intentions having changed several times recently, only more growth can be expected to come.

Featured image: Airbus

Aviation writer based in the UK.

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