Air India to launch new first, business class next year

The fleet-wide US$400m upgrade program is part of an ambitious reboot for the nation’s flag-carrier.

By Staff Writers, May 24 2023
Air India to launch new first, business class next year

Air India is developing all-new first class suites and business class seats which will take wing from mid-2024.

The ambitious project is codenamed ‘Vihaan’, after the Sanskrit word for dawn, which also carries the symbolic meaning of ”beginning of a new age.”

Air India CEO Campbell Wilson says he is “confident that, when revealed, the new interiors will delight customers and show Air India in a new light.”

The fleet-wide US$400m upgrade program will encompass premium economy – a ‘first’ for the carrier as it targets the country’s growing middle-class travel market –  alongside a revamp of inflight entertainment “across all classes.”

Wilsons sees an “untapped opportunity” in direct flights to North America, along with increasing the frequency of flights to European destinations such as Frankfurt, Paris and the UK.

The first jets fitted with Air India’s ‘next generation’ product will begin flying around mid-2024, the airline says, owing to a “lengthy but necessary process and the time required to manufacture seats.”

Star Alliance member Air India has engaged London-based JPA Design for the overhaul; JPA’s impressive body of work spans from Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines to The Orient Express and Belmond Grand Hibernian.

470 new Airbus, Boeing jets

The new seats and suites will also feature across a blockbuster US$70 billion order for 470 new Airbus and Boeing jets to be delivered over the next ten years, with options for another 370 up its sleeve.

Ranking as one of the world’s largest-ever aircraft orders,

From Airbus will come 40 olds 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.

Tata Sons Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran says the A350s will be used to “fly all ultra-long distance across the globe,” while Chief Commercial and Transformation Officer Nipun Aggarwal claims the fleet will connect India “non-stop” to every major city in the world.

“Air India is on a large transformation journey,” Chandrasekaran says.

“This order is an important step in realising Air India’s ambition... to offer a world-class proposition serving global travellers with an Indian heart.”

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1193

Fleet renewal is an important step for Air India.  Just as important is an improvement in service levels.  Staff throughout the organisation have to strive for excellence.  Unless this changes, Air India will just have newer planes that are still poorly maintained and cleaned and staffed by crew who don't seem to care.  Hopefully Tata and Singapore Airlines can drive the necessary cultural change.


03 May 2013

Total posts 668

Now just to keep the cabin interior and seats clean and maintained- a whole different project for Tata.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Mar 2022

Total posts 11

Was impressed with my experience on Vistara late last year (albeit only a domestic flight) - if anyone can bring the processes and culture to improving the AI soft product, it's Singapore Airlines.

18 Apr 2019

Total posts 6

I flew with Vistara (domestic) twice this week (Delhi to Mumbai then Mumbai to Chennai), the first flight in business and the second in premium economy. New planes, very clean, crew were friendly and helpful, good food options. Merging with Air India will hopefully bring them up to Vistara's level.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Air India to launch new first, business class next year