Sunday, January 22, 2023

Air India gets a Delta-shaped PaxEx upgrade with 777-200LRs

As Russia continues its war of aggression against Ukraine, India’s neutral relationship with Russia means that Air India does not face Russian overflight limitations. Recently acquired and privatized by Tata Sons, the Indian flag carrier now has an advantage in certain key markets, including to the US.

To facilitate growth in the near-term, Air India late last year took the opportunistic step of leasing a handful of ex-Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-200LRs, and retaining the stellar hard product already on board these twinjets.

The Star Alliance member pressed its first ex-Delta 777 into service on 15 December 2022 on new, thrice-weekly Mumbai-San Francisco flights. It will become the only carrier flying the lucrative New York JFK-Mumbai nonstop when it launches 777 service on 14 February.

Purely from an interior design perspective, Air India’s decision to retain the Delta hard product is good news for travellers, as those who have already flown aboard the twinjet can attest.

“Our family had an amazing experience from SFO-BOM (AI180) yesterday. Clean, on-time, new plane…” enthused a traveller after deplaning the aged 777.

It’s easy to understand why Air India passengers assume they’re flying on a new jet. Delta in 2018 spent a reported $100 million to refurbish its fleet of 18 777s, including eight 777-200ERs and ten 777-200LRs. It completed the 777 retrofits in 2019, even deploying the -200LR on ultra-long haul routes such as New York JFK-Mumbai. But Delta retired the fleet as the Covid crisis hit, and international travel was curtailed.

Sensibly, Air India has made very few changes to these cabins, opting to remove the Delta logo and add some Air India-focused soft product, including TUMI amenity kits for premium passengers.

22/01/23 Karun Mukhi/Runway Girl Network

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