Air India has started to execute its plans for short-term leasing of aircraft. The first of such announcements has been made by CDB Aviation, which has signed an agreement to lease six narrowbody planes to the Indian carrier. Air India is keen to add domestic and international capacity without further delay, so we can expect more such announcements in the coming months.

Six A320neos

On the sidelines of the Airline Economics Growth Frontiers Asia Pacific 2022 conference in Singapore, CDB Aviation announced today that it has signed lease agreements with Air India for six Airbus A230neo aircraft, which will be delivered in the second half of 2023.

This is expected to be one of many such agreements the airline will finalize over the next few months as it looks to add several aircraft to add capacity. Nipun Aggarwal, Chief Commercial Officer of Air India, commented,

“This is an important agreement, which will help us to strengthen our fleet with state-of-the-art aircraft. This will boost our connectivity, especially on the short and medium-haul routes, and is an important step ahead in our transformation journey.”

Air India Airbus A320 aircraft

Photo: Airbus

CDB Aviation’s Chief Commercial Officer Peter Goodman stressed the importance of India in its overall business strategy, highlighting the importance of the region for new aircraft deliveries, given that the country has around 1,000 Boeing and Airbus jets in its order books. He added,

“Our commercial team remains steadfast in its outreach efforts across Asia Pacific, leveraging our platform’s resources and scale to support the region’s airlines in restoring their networks and growing their fleets.”

Major fleet expansion

In what can be seen as Air India’s first significant fleet expansion in years, the carrier will progressively add both widebody and narrowbody aircraft in the coming months. In September, the airline announced that it will induct 30 new aircraft on lease, of which five will be Boeing 777-200LR and the rest 25 Airbus narrowbodies.

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Air India Boeing 777-200LR

The 777s will join the fleet between December 2022 and March 2023 and will be deployed on routes to the US. The deliveries of the Airbus narrowbodies are expected to be spread across the whole of next year.

The new aircraft will increase the fleet size of Air India by around 25%. This will be over and above the capacity increase that is already underway as the newly energized airline has begun to fix many of its grounded planes to be deployed back in service.

Eye on the Indian market

Over the next year, Air India plans to tighten its grip on the domestic sector to reclaim some of its lost market share. On the international side, its leased 777s will provide the much-needed capacity, enabling it to expand its lucrative North American network.

Air India Boeing 777

Photo: Getty Images

The carrier’s chief Campbell Wilson has an even larger plan and wants Air India to achieve a 30% share in domestic and international markets in the next five years – a substantial increase from its current 10% domestic and 12% international market hold.

Alongside the increase in aircraft numbers, part of the larger turnaround plan is also to improve the carrier’s soft product bringing it into direct competition with some of the leading international airlines globally.

What do you feel about Air India’s expansion plans? Please leave a comment below.


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