With the Air India CEO Campbell Wilson on Monday announcing the delivery of all six Airbus A350s this year, backed by a whopping order of 470 Boeing and Airbus aircraft, the airline is gearing up to establish itself as a major player in both domestic and international segments. Following its merger with Vistara, Air India will revamp its image by incorporating Vistara’s “ethos”.
businessline had reported that the six wide-body aircraft were to be delivered in 2023. Addressing the media on Monday, Campbell said the said six wide-body aircraft are indeed the latest Airbus aircraft, A350, which were personally approved by Ratan Tata for Air India.
“By the end of this year, six wide-body A350 will be delivered,” Campbell said. The total order comprises 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777-9 wide-body aircraft, as well as 210 Airbus A320/A321 Neos and 190 Boeing 737 MAX narrow-bodies.
When asked if the airline is looking at becoming a bigger player in the domestic market, he said that Air India is looking at being a “major player” in all markets.
“However, we also see significant opportunities in the international long haul segment, with the manifold jump in the capacity. We have a sizeable order, we also have existing 787s, plus the refurbished aircraft. We see opportunity in South-East Asia, North America and Europe.”
He further said that the Tata Group will have two airlines — a full service carrier and a low-cost carrier. Vistara will be merged with Air India to become a full service carrier and Air Asia India and Air India Express will be the low-cost product.
On Vistara’s merger with Air India, he said, “We have a desire to carry forward Air India and Vistara. How we can take it forward is something we are working on.” He explained that while Vistara has a strong connection in the Indian market however, if you look outside of India, Air India has a much more recognised brand for over decades now.
“We have communicated to the staff that the future Air India will be called Air India but the Vistara heritage will be included. Air India will continue to exist but the ethos of Vistara will be kept.”
Speaking about the famous Air India mascot of the Maharajah logo, he said the airline plans to retain it but in what capacity, is still unclear. “It is very well known in India but not internationally, so we need to appeal to that audience too. It will be a part of the future but how exactly, we are yet to finalise.”
Air India has been facing a slack over its product. Giving an update on the product, Campbell said that replacement of seats, inflight entertainment will be complete by May. “We have made good strides but we are not quite where we’d like to be. We hope that we will be able to complete the refurbishment by the end of this year.”