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Air India to Spend $400 Million On...

By Deepak Patel
June 12, 2023 09:30 IST
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... changing seats and in-flight entertainment on its older aircraft.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Air India

'Dated' seats and in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems on Air India's old long-haul aircraft such as B777 and B787 will be replaced 2024 onwards.

As on May 15, the Tata Group-owned carrier had an active fleet of 107 planes, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium.

Wide-bodied B777 and B787 aircraft comprise about 42 per cent of the active fleet, while the remaining 58 per cent fleet consists of narrow-bodied planes such as A319, A320 and A321.

There is no specific definition of what can be called a 'dated seat' or 'dated IFE' according to aviation terminology.

This refers to features in older aircraft. Air India's B777 planes are between 5 and 16 years old, while its B787 planes are aged 5-12.

'Our domestic and short-haul international routes... score well (in passenger survey), as do our airport operations at such places as Pune, Kolkata and Trivandrum,' Air India CEO and MD Campbell Wilson wrote to employees in a message, which has been seen by Business Standard.

'As expected, the long-haul routes operated by our legacy B777 and B787 aircraft are not rated so well due to the dated seats and IFE systems... which is, of course, why we're preparing to refit these interiors starting next year so that they complement those on all brand-new aircraft we have coming!' Wilson added.


Photograph: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters

The airline had in December said it planned to refurbish its 40 legacy wide-bodied aircraft fleet at an investment of more than $400 million.

All these planes were acquired when the airline was under the government's ownership. The Tata Group regained control of Air India in January last year. 

Air India has mandated London-based product design companies JPA Design and Trendworks to assist with the cabin refurbishment exercise.

The airline has received more than 140,000 responses to date in its passenger survey, which is used to calculate a 'net promoter score', Wilson said.

'Pleasingly, although we're short of where we aim to eventually be, we've seen a significant improvement in NPS compared to last year's benchmark, and there are many areas where we are doing very well,' the CMD mentioned.

Over the last three months, Air India has expanded net promoter score to cover the entire physical customer journey, from check-in, through to lounges, in-flight experience and the arrival process, and it will be extended to the online and call centre experiences too.

'We'll continue to expand NPS to guide and measure improvements across all functions, including services provided by our partners such as caterers, GHAs (ground handling agents) and airport operators, and, of course, ourselves,' Wilson mentioned.

Air India had in February placed an order of 470 planes, the world's largest single-trache order, with Boeing and Airbus. 70 out of 470 planes will be wide-bodied aircraft.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/

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Deepak Patel
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