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Air India to expand fleet with 30 Boeing and Airbus jets

New owner, conglomerate Tata Group, faces uphill task in turning carrier around

An Air India flight arrives in Vancouver, Canada.   © Reuters

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -- Tata Group-owned Air India said on Monday that it will lease 30 Boeing and Airbus aircraft, expanding its fleet by more than 25%.

Air India's new owner, an autos-to-steel conglomerate, faces an uphill task to upgrade the carrier's aging fleet and turn around its financials and service levels.

"After a long time without significant growth, Air India is delighted to resume expanding its fleet and global footprint," said Air India chief executive Campbell Wilson.

"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."

The latest deals comprise the leasing of 21 Airbus A320neos, four Airbus A321neos and five Boeing B777-200LRs.

The Airbus jets will begin joining the fleet in the first quarter of next year and are expected to be deployed on domestic and short-haul international routes.

The B777-200LRs will join the fleet between December and March, with deployment likely to be on routes from Indian cities to the United States.

The airline currently has 54 narrow-body aircraft and 33 wide-body aircraft operational, it said in a statement, adding that more are expected to be in service soon.

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