Air India Plans More US Routes Following Fleet Revamp

The addition of five Boeing 777-200LRs will help to facilitate growth in the US market.

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Air India has leased 30 new aircraft to boost domestic and international operations over the next 15 months, which includes adding new US flights from Mumbai and Bengaluru.

The Tata Group-owned carrier has signed leases and letters of intent for 21 Airbus A320neos, four A321neos and five Boeing 777-200LRs. The new aircraft will increase the airline’s fleet by more than 25%.

The 777-200LRs will join the fleet between December 2022 and March 2023, and will be deployed on routes from Indian metro cities to destinations in the US. The configuration of the aircraft will result in Air India offering premium economy on long-haul flights for the first time.

Mumbai (BOM) will see the addition of routes to San Francisco (SFO) and New York John F Kennedy (JFK), coming alongside its existing 3X-weekly service to Newark Liberty (EWR). The planned start dates and frequencies for the two new routes are yet to be announced.

Nonstop service from Bengaluru (BLR) to San Francisco will also resume on Oct. 31. Air India said that three round trips per week are planned, although OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that flights have initially been scheduled for twice a week.

“These new aircraft, together with existing aircraft being returned to service, address an immediate need for more capacity and connectivity, and mark a strong step forward,” Air India CEO and MD Campbell Wilson said. “Air India has exciting expansion and renewal plans, of which these new aircraft are just the beginning.”

During the week commencing Sept. 12, Air India has six India-US routes in its network, flying from Delhi (DEL) to Chicago O'Hare (ORD), New York JFK, Newark, San Francisco and Washington Dulles (IAD), alongside its BOM-EWR service.

In total, the carrier has 20,662 two-way seats available between India and the US. This compares with 20,878 at this time in 2019 before the pandemic.

On Sept. 12, Routes reported that Air India is ramping up its schedule to Qatar during November and December to help meet demand from migrant workers and soccer fans heading to the FIFA World Cup. Twenty new flights per week will be introduced from Oct. 30, connecting Mumbai, Hyderabad (HYD) and Chennai (MAA) with Qatar’s capital Doha (DOH).

The airline is also restoring flights between Delhi and Birmingham (BHX) in the UK on Oct. 2 and increase Amritsar (ATQ)-Birmingham frequencies to 2X-weekly.

Air India’s narrowbody fleet currently stands at 70 aircraft, of which 54 are in service. The remaining 16 aircraft will progressively return to service by early 2023. The carrier’s widebody fleet also stands at 43 aircraft, of which 33 are operational. The rest will return to service by early 2023.