- Air India’s rejuvenation continues with the arrival of its new Airbus A350-900.
- The combination of new narrow and widebody aircraft will strengthen the airline’s domestic and international network.
- Air India aims to compete with Middle Eastern carriers and position itself as a leading global carrier under private ownership.
Air India’s rejuvenation is set to continue into 2024, with the carrier’s recent arrival of its new Airbus A350-900. This marks the first of many new planes destined for the Indian carrier, with over 470 aircraft on order between Airbus and Boeing combined.
The combination of new narrow and widebody aircraft looks to strengthen the carrier’s domestic and international network and continue to build on the carrier’s robust expansion plans since the amalgamation of Air India, Air India Express, AirAsia India, and full-service carrier Vistara.
Tata Group, the parent organization of Air India, is striving to position the airline as a leading global carrier but faces growing competition from Middle Eastern carriers, Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways, which already have extensive Indian networks.
Forgetting the past and focussing on the future
Moving from a government lead to a private carrier will take some adjustment for many, and the airline’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Campbell Wilson, is up for the challenge.
Wilson is originally from New Zealand and spent much of his aviation career working for Singapore Airlines. The executive joined Air India in June 2022 and stressed on multiple occasions that the carrier is well overdue for a revamp, according to Forbes:
“Air India has probably punched well below its weight and aviation contexts relative to the size of the market and the size of the geography, as a consequence, airlines have built themselves on carrying Indian travelers via other points. Because of the product, past reputation, and the small fleet of Air India, the network has been quite sparse. Also, we’ve tended to carry leisure travelers, visiting friends and relatives. That was the purpose of the airline, in many respects, being a government-owned entity back in the day. It was a vehicle to bring Indian people together. Whereas now, under private ownership, there’s capital and ambition.”
Air India’s rebranding is one of the first steps in a new, improved look and reputation for the carrier. Wilson reiterates that every corner of the airline is set for change, from onboard experiences to lounges and a refreshed attitude and approach for airline staff.
The aircraft landed in Delhi on December 23.
Competing with global carriers
A new and improved onboard experience is critical to the airline’s future, with Wilson admitting the cabins were well overdue for a refresh. Air India now looks to claim back some of the saturated market share in the premium cabin market, as both corporate and high-end leisure remain popular.
Network expansion will remain a key focus for the carrier, as it is already ramping up frequencies to North America, and capacity to Europe. Additionally, the airline recently commenced direct services to Melbourne, Australia.
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Campbell Wilson