National carrier Air India (AI) will add 57 planes to its fleet in the next two years as it takes on private airlines for a larger pie of the domestic market, according to an internal projection done by the airline.
The biggest addition will be made to the Airbus A320 fleet, which is the backbone of the airline’s domestic operations. “The fleet will increase to 114 by 2018 from 66 at present, which means an addition of 48 aircraft. We will be seeking the board’s approval,” said an official.
“The on-going recruitment of cockpit and cabin crew is being done keeping in view the aircraft projections that we have made,” said another official. In addition to the A320s, AI will add three long-haul B777s and six B787 Dreamliners.
Separately, the airline has already announced plans to induct 15 new A320s on lease next year, most of which would used to replace the aging A320 fleet. “These 15 planes are mostly for replacement purposes. We will also be adding 10 ATRs,” he said.
To meet the additional fleet demands, AI has already hired 500 cabin crew and plans to hire another one thousand crew members.
“Our cabin crew strength is 3200 at present but around 15% of the crew is on ground at any given point of time. With more planes coming in we will need additional crew,” he said.
“It’s good that AI is planning for the future. Some of its rivals have done fleet planning for the next ten years. While leasing planes is fine, AI will sooner or later need to place a big order as leasing is a much expensive proposition,” said aviation expert Rajji Rai.