NEW DELHI, INDIA — Air India is preparing to lease six Airbus A320neos and six Boeing 777-300ERs, as it persists in an aggressive growth strategy that also includes network expansion and an increase in flights to European and North American markets.

The Asian carrier is set to begin direct flights from Delhi to key European cities like Milan, Vienna, and Copenhagen, and from Mumbai to New York, Paris, and Frankfurt.

The Delhi-based airline announced its fleet upgrade on Dec. 5 and stated that the new planes would be introduced in the first half of 2023. The announcement came less than six months after an earlier fleet expansion announcement involving the lease of 25 Airbus A320neo family aircraft and five Boeing 777-200LR aircraft.

Air India says the 777s will serve major Indian cities and long-haul international destinations, while the A320neos are deployed on domestic and short-to-medium-haul international routes.

The airline has already returned 19 grounded aircraft to service. Nine more will follow in the coming weeks.

CEO Campbell Wilson said the leasing agreements are intended to support near-term growth. A long-term fleet expansion is in progress with new aircraft orders. Air India is in talks with Boeing and Airbus for a historic aircraft order worth $50 billion. It currently operates a fleet of 39 aircraft, including 13 Boeing 777-300ERs and 26 Airbus A320neos. The airline was acquired by Indian conglomerate Tata in early 2021. Before that, it had been owned by the Indian government for nearly 70 years.

Last week, Tata Group announced that it would combine its four airline brands, including Air India, Vistara, Air India Express, and AirAsia India, under Air India Ltd.