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Business News/ Companies / News/  Air India plans mid-2024 overseas launch for A350
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Air India plans mid-2024 overseas launch for A350

The airline's first A350, part of a redirected order originally for Aeroflot, was inducted into the fleet last month.

Air India Airbus A350. (Photo: ANI)Premium
Air India Airbus A350. (Photo: ANI)

New Delhi: Air India, backed by the Tata Group, plans to launch its newly inducted wide-body Airbus A350 aircraft on international routes by mid-2024, a senior executive of the airline told Mint.

The executive added that while the second A350 is joining the fleet this month, the total of six A350 deliveries will be completed by March. The airline is prioritizing ample training time for pilots, planning domestic A350 operations for the next five to six months.

In anticipation of the A350's international debut, Air India is revamping its passenger experience. First and business class travellers will be treated to new amenity kits by Italian luxury brand Ferragamo. Premium economy passengers will receive refreshed kits from the US-based Tumi brand, and even economy passengers on ultra-long-haul flights will enjoy amenity kits.

These enhancements extend beyond personal amenities. Air India is introducing refreshed bed linens, India-inspired chinaware, copper-gold serving plates for first-class guests, and lead-free Slovakian glassware. These upgrades will be available across all international flights on Air India's B777 and B787 aircraft, but the rollout will begin only when the A350 commences international flights.

For entertainment, the airline has significantly upgraded its in-flight options. Long-haul flights will now offer over 2,200 hours of diverse content, including movies, TV shows, and audio. This upgrade will be featured not only on the A350 and newly inducted B777-200LR but also on other incoming widebody aircraft.

The new in-flight entertainment features will also be available in the legacy widebody fleet of Air India, that will undergo a comprehensive $400-million retrofit programme starting in the second half of 2024. This will revamp the interiors of Air India's legacy widebody fleet, enhancing the passenger experience.

This follows a substantial order placed by Air India in February 2023 for 470 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus. The order includes a mix of 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing B787s, and 10 Boeing B777-9s, along with 400 narrow-body aircraft. Specifically, the A350 order consists of 34 Airbus A350-1000s and six A350-900s, later modified to an equal split of 20 each.

The airline's first A350, part of a redirected order originally for Aeroflot, was inducted into the fleet last month. Configured with 28 business, 24 premium economy, and 264 economy seats, this aircraft marks the beginning of a major fleet expansion for Air India.

To support growth and expansion, Air India has also opened a 600,000 sq. ft. training academy and plans to establish flight schools to train over 500 pilots annually. 

“The A350 is a game-changer for Air India," Campbell Wilson, chief executive officer and managing director, Air India, said. “It will not only elevate our passenger experience but also open up new routes and opportunities for expansion".

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Published: 19 Jan 2024, 04:29 PM IST
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