With Tata Group at the helm, Air India, the country's former national carrier, is undergoing enormous transformations, from in-flight services to the fleet itself. According to a recent source, Air India has opted to purchase the European planemaker's wide-body Airbus A350 aircraft.
The carrier, which is owned by Tata, will fly its first batch of planes on international routes that are now covered by Boeing 777 and Boeing 747. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered to Air India by March 2023, according to the source, however it is unclear how many A350 aircraft would be acquired by the carrier.
If the agreement is finalised, this will be Air India's first Airbus wide-body plane, as the firm currently only has Boeing wide-body planes in its fleet.
However, on internal flights in India, Air India has deployed smaller single-aisle Airbus A320 aircraft. A wide-bodied airliner, such as the Airbus A350, has a larger fuel tank, allowing it to fly greater distances, such as between India and the United States. Airbus is also less expensive to own than the Boeing 777 and 787.
Air India has not purchased a single aircraft since 2006, when it made orders for 111 aircraft, 68 from Boeing and 43 from Airbus, both of which were manufactured in the United States. After winning the bid for Air India on October 8 of last year, the Tata Group seized control of the airline on January 27. This will be Air India's first plane purchase since Tata took over the company.
Air India has begun asking its senior pilots if they are interested in receiving "conversion training" to operate A350 aircraft, according to sources. Air India's pilots have been trained to fly Boeing's wide-body aircraft. As a result, they must complete "conversion training" in order to fly Airbus' A350 aircraft. Air India has 49 wide-body aircraft in its fleet, according to its website: 18 Boeing B777, 4 Boeing B747, and 27 Boeing B787. The carrier's fleet also includes 79 narrow-body planes.