Air India (AI, Delhi International) has taken delivery of its first A350-900, ferrying VT-JRA (msn 554) in from Toulouse Blagnac to Delhi on December 23, 2023. The aircraft is the first of 20 of the type going to the airline.

Air India CEO Campbell Wilson called the plane's arrival a "red letter day" saying it symbolises the carrier's restructuring and commitment to setting new benchmarks. "It is also, in many ways, a declaration of Indian aviation’s resurgence on the world stage,” he said.

VT-JRA was one of several A350-900s manufactured for Aeroflot (SU, Moscow Sheremetyevo) but not taken up owing to sanctions. The aircraft will debut into revenue service in January, flying domestic sectors for crew familiarisation purposes before deploying onto international routes. Air India expects to take delivery of four more A350-900s by March 31, 2024. Wilson says the aircraft's first routes will be announced within the next few weeks.

"Its excellent flight economics and state of-the-art technology underscore our dedication to commercially successful operations," he said.

Air India's current fleet, including VT-JRA, comprises twenty A319-100s, nine A320-200s, thirty-five A320-200Ns, fourteen A321-200s, four A321-200NX, eight B777-200LRs, fifteen B777-300ERs, and twenty-seven B787-8s. Earlier this year, the airline placed a large order for additional aircraft under its fleet renewal and transformation program. Across Boeing and Airbus, Air India's 501 aircraft due, including 128 A320-200Ns, 140 A321-200Ns, nine A321-200NXs, one A321-200NX(LR), twenty A350-900s, twenty A350-1000s, ninety B787-8s, seven B777-300ERs, ten B777-9s, and twenty-five B787-9s.

Air India's fleet will get a further boost when it finalises its merger with Vistara (UK, Delhi International). Both airlines have the same parent entity, Tata Sons. The merger will see Vistara's aircraft folded into the Air India fleet, adding another 70 aircraft to the tally. Wilson expects the merger to finalise in 2024.