Star Alliance member Air India is embarking on an ambitious transformation which will see it represent the “bold new India” with a fresh look and feel, new cabins from nose to tail plus an enhanced loyalty program, together with a bolstered fleet – and much more.
The most immediate change is the airline’s new logo and symbol, dubbed ‘The Vista’, which replaces the familiar flying red swan adorned in orange spokes with a rather restrained golden arch, said to be inspired by the peak of a window.
A fresh livery of red, aubergine and gold highlights will also take wing across the fleet, starting with the airline’s first Airbus A350, which enters service from December 2023, before rolling out across the full twin-aisle fleet as part of a $400 million refurbishment project.
By March 2024, it’s expected 33% of the airline’s widebody fleet will have been upgraded.
Air India CEO Campbell Wilson describes this as a “total transformation”, adding the bold and confident new brand is one reflecting an “ambition to make Air India a world class airline serving guests from around the globe.”
Codenamed ‘Vihaan’, after the Sanskrit word for dawn, the project – first teased in May – includes all-new first and business suites, replete with sliding privacy doors in both cabins.
Based on the Safran Unity platform taking wing on Qantas’ new A350 from 2025, the business class is adorned in an elegant grey and aubergine colour scheme with rose gold and silver accents. It’s a stark contrast to the red and mustard currently in play.
Passengers seated in a 1-2-1 layout will be cocooned behind sliding privacy doors, with the suite itself featuring modern conveniences such as wireless charging along with a large touchscreen monitor and pull-out tray table.
A larger screen and ottoman footrest, which looks like it may double as a second seat allowing dining for two, is also among the notable differences.
Those seated in premium economy will find smart red, grey and white interiors in a 2-4-2 layout. Each seat is fitted with a foot rest along with a small drinks table between the seats.
Air India engaged London-based JPA Design for the wide-reaching overhaul; JPA’s impressive body of work spans from Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines to The Orient Express and Belmond Grand Hibernian.
In addition to the new look and feel, the airline has confirmed a blockbuster US$70 billion order for 470 new Airbus and Boeing jets to be delivered over the next ten years.
From Airbus will come 40 of its long-range A350 series and 210 A320neo-family jets; Boeing will supply 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, ten of the yet-to-launch 777-9s and 190 of the 737 MAX series.
“We see significant opportunity in long-haul international (flights),” Wilson says, adding that the order for 70 twin-aisle aircraft means “a many-fold increase in Air India’s widebody long-haul fleet, and therefore, capacity.”
It’s all part of a sweeping reinvention of Air India under new owners Tata Group, which ironically founded the airline in 1932, only to see it nationalised in 1953.
Tata purchased the debt-ridden airline in October 2021 for US$2.4bn, which will merge with Vistara – a joint venture of Tata Group and Singapore Airlines – in the first half of 2024.
Last but not least, the airline says its Flying Returns loyalty program will also be overhauled in early 2024, unlocking “thousands of new redemption possibilities”.
Additional reporting by David Flynn.