Air India (AI, Delhi International) plans to triple the size of its fleet over the next five years according to the airline's chief financial officer Vinod Hejmadi. But the CFO added that it will take around two years before the carrier enters its next big growth stage. Hejmadi made the comments at the Aviation Insurance Symposium 2022 in India on Friday, October 14.

"In the Air India transformation journey, we are looking for, in the next five years, a 30% market share and we are planning to grow our aircraft fleet three times what we currently have. We are looking forward to ensuring that we add on capacity for growth and discussions with aircraft manufacturers are going on to acquire fleet," the Economic Times reports Hejmadi saying.

"We are at the moment looking at the taxiing phase, which is to fix the basics, to fix what was wrong in Air India and after six months of that, we have to look for the take-off. And that will be about two years journey when we take off, consolidate and go into the growth mode."

Indian conglomerate Tata Sons acquired control of Air India in late January in a USD2.4 billion equity and debt deal that privatised the former state-owned carrier. That transaction also saw Tata pick up Air India Express (IX, Delhi International). In addition, Tata has a 51% stake in Vistara (UK, Delhi International) and an 83.67% holding in AirAsia India (Bangalore International). Tata Sons is now exploring various consolidation options. Last week, Singapore Airlines confirmed it was in talks with Tata regarding its 49% shareholding in Vistara and the potential integration of that airline and Air India.

Last month, ch-aviation reported that Air India had signed lease contracts covering thirty aircraft, including five B777-200LRs, twenty-one A320-200Ns, and four A321-200Ns. On Friday, Hejmadi said all 30 planes would be delivered over the next 15 months.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, Air India now has 94 aircraft in service, including 38 widebody Boeing jets, and 58 narrowbody Airbus planes. A further 25 aircraft are currently classified as inactive. Tata Sons is expending considerable energy and resources rebooting the carrier. Hejmadi says the transformation program is focusing on five points - industry leadership, robust operations, commercial efficiency, industry-best talent, and an exceptional customer experience.

The CFO did not specify what additional aircraft Air India was interested in acquiring, however, ch-aviation has recently noted that the airline was close to sealing a deal to take around twenty A350s, with possible options including taking completed but undelivered aircraft originally going to Aeroflot (SU, Moscow Sheremetyevo) and Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad International).

If that transaction is finalised, it will signal the end of Air India's all Boeing widebody fleet. After retiring the last of its B747-400s in May, the airline now operates three B777-200(LR)s, thirteen B777-300ERs, and twenty-seven B787-8s. Earlier this year, the B787-9 was also flagged as a possible future option for the airline.