NEW DELHI, INDIA — Air India's CEO, Campbell Wilson, has announced the airline's ambitious plans for the most significant turnaround in aviation history, aiming to transform India into a major aviation hub.

The recently privatized airline, now owned by Tata Sons, is undergoing a major overhaul that includes upgrading its fleet and modernizing its information technology systems.

Wilson believes this is the largest aviation turnaround ever attempted. Tata acquired the national carrier after a $2.4bn bid in 2021 and initiated a five-year turnaround program named Vihaan.AI. Last month, Air India placed an order for 470 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, marking one of the largest purchases in the industry.

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The airline is expanding its workforce and services to capitalize on India's growing economy, population, and diaspora. Wilson's plan is to triple passenger numbers and eventually compete with Gulf airport hubs such as Dubai and Qatar for layover traffic.

Tata is also seeking regulatory approval to merge its joint venture Vistara with Singapore Airlines into Air India. The planned merger includes a $250 million investment from Singapore Airlines, giving it a 25.1% stake in Air India. Furthermore, the company plans to integrate its Air Asia Express and Air Asia India operations into a single carrier.

While Wilson couldn't specify when the airline would become profitable, he identified numerous opportunities for cost reduction and revenue growth, including modernizing essential functions like scheduling, fuel and insurance contracts, and the frequent flyer program. Air India's new owners have also begun investing heavily in IT and upgrading the existing fleet with new seats and in-flight systems.

However, some international observers have questioned the feasibility of such a turnaround, given the historical challenges faced by Indian carriers in global competition.