Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) is planning to dry-lease six B777s on two-year contracts starting in October 2022 to boost its North America services as its existing fleet is plagued by technical problems, The Hindustan Times has reported.

"Taking into account the impact on the airline operations, it has been decided that the airline will lease six B777s to operate its ultra-long-haul flights. The aircraft are set to arrive by October and will be operated in addition to the current aircraft," an unnamed official said.

The source did not specify the B777 variant involved. Air India did not respond to ch-aviation's request for comment.

The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that Air India's current fleet of B777s comprises three B777-200(LR)s (earmarked for sale) and thirteen B777-300(ER)s. The B777s are deployed exclusively on routes to Canada (Vancouver Int'l and Toronto Pearson) and the United States (New York JFK, New York Newark, Chicago O'Hare, and San Francisco, CA), the ch-aviation schedules module indicates. The North American market is currently experiencing a rapid recovery in the wake of the lifting of the remaining COVID-related travel restrictions, putting a strain on the airline's reliability. The current B777s are reportedly experiencing technical issues related, in particular, to their cabin interiors, which are causing delays and thus prompted the carrier to seek additional aircraft.

The airline also operates twenty-seven B787-8s in terms of its widebody fleet. The B787s are deployed primarily on shorter routes to Asia and Europe, although Air India also uses them on select services to Washington Dulles and Newark.

Air India recently said that due to the recovery of demand, it would be able to reactivate all of its current widebodies by the first quarter of 2023. The recently reprivatised carrier is in talks with manufacturers about a large order for new-generation widebodies and is reportedly leaning towards the A350s, although no formal announcement has been made just yet.