Flyers on Air India (AI) will be able to use onboard WiFi in the next two years while on redesigned wide-body aircraft.
Next year, the AI will begin providing onboard WiFi. According to AI MD-CEO Campbell Wilson, the procedure will start with the six new wide-body Airbus A350 aircraft that will join its fleet in the upcoming months.
This facility will later be added to further wide-body aircraft, including some single-aisles as well as future aircraft introductions and the current fleet. Additionally, in the following two years, the interiors of the whole AI wide-body fleet will be brand new.
“We will induct 19 new wide-body aircraft by the end of next March. These new planes will get onboard WiFi first. From mid 2024 we will start sending our 40 existing wide-body (27 Boeing 787s and 13 B777s) for complete refurbishment. Their interiors will be scrapped and they will get everything brand new from seats to inflight entrainment (IFE) and onboard Wifi as part of our $400 million upgrade project. By mid 2025, all our twin aisles will have absolutely new cabin product,” Wilson said.
While 17 of the 19 twin aisle aircraft will be utilised to expand the fleet, AI has lately begun discussing the arrest of two additional B777 aircraft in order to retire two wide-bodies.
By September of next year, the majority of AI Group’s full service single aisles will also get a comprehensive redesign. “This fiscal year, we’ll introduce 50 single aisles. 75-80% of our full-service single aisles will be brand-new by September 2024, he said. The remaining 20–25% will be renovated and used by AI Express, the company’s low-cost arm. This implies that interiors for AI full-service arm planes would be totally redesigned within the next two years. Meanwhile, AI has begun reinstating six of the 47 weekly non-stop flights to the United States that were temporarily suspended this March due to a shortage of B777 crew. “We are reinstating three of those flights this month and the remaining three next month. We are now hiring five and 10 times more pilots and cabin crew per month than last year. We are hiring 600 crew (550 cabin crew and 50 pilots) every month,” Wilson, who was selected managing director-chief executive officer by Tata Group last May, said.
Go First still had over 80 Airbus A320neo family aircraft on order that hadn’t been delivered when it halted operations on May 3. According to sources, a number of international carriers, including AI and IndiGo, have requested the European aerospace major to offer Go First delivery-slot planes because the airline’s future is uncertain and Airbus has halted deliveries to it as a result. According to sources, Go First would have received 10 to 12 brand-new Airbus A320s if the airline hadn’t experienced such financial difficulties.
“We have spoken to Airbus, seeking faster deliveries and they are yet to decide. We want to take these planes with CFM engines (Go used Pratt & Whitney). Airbus can deliver that combination with the required lead time,” Air India MD-CEO Wilson told. Basically AI is also eying the A320neo family planes that have been ordered by Go First and whose delivery slots are now available but in CFM engines. Asked if AI has the required crew to operate more A320s, Wilson said, “We will be able to use them.” Close to 200 Go First pilots have joined AI since the Wadia Group airline cancelled flights from May 3.