NEW DELHI, INDIA — Air India to acquire Airbus A350s initially ordered by Aeroflot amid expansive growth plans.

Air India, under the ownership of Tata, is set to take delivery of its first Airbus A350 wide-body aircraft in the latter half of 2023, likely commencing in October.

These A350 aircraft were initially ordered by Russian airline Aeroflot, but following the imposition of US sanctions against Russia due to its ongoing "special military operation" in Ukraine, European aircraft manufacturers have halted the delivery of planes to Russia. Consequently, these orders will now be fulfilled by Air India.

An official from Air India, speaking anonymously, told ANI, "Air India is aggressively planning for expansion and the A-350 aircraft is integral to these plans. We are liaising with the manufacturer, Airbus, to expedite the delivery of the aircraft."

When questioned about the origination of the planes designated for delivery to Air India, the official confirmed that these were initially intended for Russian Aeroflot. However, the deliveries were interrupted due to US sanctions, and no further details were provided.

In his inaugural media interaction in February, Air India CEO and MD Campbell Wilson revealed that passengers would soon experience the A-350 aircraft on international routes, with six aircraft expected to arrive this year.

While Air India has not yet formally disclosed the aircraft deployment and route details, it intends to initially use the aircraft in the domestic sector for a period under the 'Conversion Training Programme'. Following Wilson's announcement regarding the A-350 delivery, the operations department at Air India promptly advised wide-body pilots to prepare for conversion training on the A-350 aircraft, an official revealed to ANI.

Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer, declined to comment on ANI's inquiries, stating, "We do not comment on stories related to the delivery of aircraft to industry peers."

Air India's expansive growth strategy includes acquiring 250 aircraft from Airbus and up to 290 planes from Boeing. This large-scale purchase agreement was lauded as "historic" by US President Joe Biden, while French President Emmanuel Macron celebrated the contract between Airbus and Tata Sons, recognizing it as a new phase in the strategic partnership between India and France.