Air India inducts first Airbus 320 neo plane, to lease 13 more this year


New Delhi: Air India on Thursday inducted the first Airbus 320 neo plane, touted as fuel efficient, into its fleet and plans to take 13 more such aircraft on lease this year. The A320 neo (new engine option) plane is configured with 162 seats, including 12 in the business class.

The plane has been leased from Kuwait’s ALAFCO. Soon after formally inducting the plane, which was given the traditional water canon salute at the international airport here, Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani said a total of 14 A320 Neos would be inducted into the fleet.

The airline would also look at using these planes for international operations, he said. Air India is the third Indian carrier after no-frills airlines IndiGo and GoAir to induct A320 neo aircraft.

Air India Group’s fleet size now stands at 138 planes. The national carrier plans to induct a total of 29 A320 neos into its fleet by March 2019. While Air India has already tied up with three lessors—ALAFCO, GECAPS and CIT—for 22 planes, the process to select a bidder for the remaining seven such planes is underway.

The induction of the new fuel-efficient aircraft into its fleet is aimed at augmenting the capacity in the domestic market which is growing at a rate of over 20% for nearly two years now.

The maker of A320 neo, European aviation major Airbus claims that these planes burn 15% less fuel than the existing model. As per original schedule, Air India was to receive three such planes in this fiscal with two of them being in January it but the delivery was delayed.