(Air India Boeing 777 - Photo: Andre Wadman - Wikipedia Commons - Used with permission)
Air India is said to be leasing 6 Boeing 777 jets to replace several of the existing planes that they own due to 'interior issues'.
The Hindustan Times reports that Air India has popular flights to North America that have been affected by the airlines' planes and that leasing was the best option until the problems can be fixed.
In a quote published by the Times, a source said the following:
“Taking into account the impact on the airline operations, it has been decided that the airline will lease six B777 to operate its ultra-long-haul flights (lasting over 16 hours),” an airline official said, requesting anonymity. “The (existing) aircraft have no other issues.”
A second source went on to add:
“The six leased aircraft will not replace the previous ones but will be additions to the fleet.”
Air India is planning to buy a total of 150 aircraft. That would comprise 50 Airbus A350-900 and 100 A321neo aircraft. Pilots have been asked to prepare for training on the new planes which will be inducted by the middle of next year.
Additional Report Says the Problem is Seat Related
Simple Flying reports that the interior issue is 'unserviceable seats unfit for passengers'. There isn't any additional information on what that entails and/or if it's a safety issue or comfort one.
As the COVID pandemic wanes, demand for direct flights to the US and Canada has risen sharply. Air India is responding by adding more flights and destinations, but has challenges finding enough widebody jets to fill the need.
Air India is also believed to be nearing an agreement with Airbus for the A350, which could be their main widebody solution going forward long-term.
As I said before, this really hurts Boeing because they could be filling these needs with the new 777. That seems a long way off...