• Air India will add Boeing 777-300ER to its London Heathrow service from Delhi in September.
  • The airline has ordered several 777s on short-term leases that previously flew for Delta Air Lines, Singapore Airlines, and Etihad Airways.
  • Air India also plans to introduce new cabins on its widebody planes starting next year.

Air India’s passenger service to London Heathrow will see a diversification of equipment from September with the addition of a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The airline has been operating flights to London using only its Boeing 787 planes for a few years now. But as it welcomes new 777s on short-term leases, London has been chosen as one of the destinations to receive services from these aircraft.

Boeing 777 back on the Delhi-London route

Air India will deploy its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft between Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) and London Heathrow (LHR) from September as flight AI111. This is the first time in years that the airline will use its 777 aircraft on this route. It will also continue to use its Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes between the two cities.

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The development comes after Air India recently welcomed a 777-300ER aircraft that previously belonged to Etihad Airways. The plane’s configuration includes three classes – first, business and economy. This also means that Air India will offer first class seats to London after a long time, although these seats aren’t available for booking on its website yet. Air India’s 787s offer business and economy class only.

More 777s to enter fleet

While Air India has hundreds of planes on order for long-term expansion, it has ordered several Boeing 777s on leases for short-term use. It already uses some of Delta Air Lines' former Boeing 777-200LRs and will also welcome 777-300ERs that previously flew for Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways.

Air India Boeing 777-300ER
Photo: Wirestock Creators | Shutterstock

According to its latest plan, it will have 14 777s on short-term leases – five 777-200LRs from Delta, three 777-300ERs from Singapore Airlines, and six 777-300ERs from Etihad, the first of which arrived earlier this month with the registration VT-AER.

Reports of Air India planning to acquire three of Singapore Airlines’ 777s first surfaced in July. Singapore Airlines retired a few of its 777s during the COVID pandemic, and it’s possible that these could come Air India’s way. Currently, it is not known when the three 777s will arrive in India from Singapore.

Cabin upgrades

Of course, the inclusion of all these 777s that previously operated for other carriers means that Air India is now in a position to sell tickets for cabins different from its usual offerings. For instance, when Delta’s former 777-200LRs arrived, Air India started offering premium economy tickets on select routes to the US. One could also expect upgraded premium cabins on planes that flew for Singapore Airlines and Etihad.

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But the carrier will eventually introduce new cabins of its own on all of its widebody planes and recently revealed new cabins that will feature on its 777 fleet starting next year.

A two-minute clip showed four different cabins – first class, business class, premium economy, and economy. Brown, beige, and gray were the predominant colors in first and business class, while economy and premium economy featured dark red or maroon seats with gray headrests.

All of this is part of Air India’s ambitious cabin refurbishment program for which it has set aside a sum of $400 million. Hopefully, the airline will replace its outdated premium cabins entirely in the next few years.

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  • Tom Boon-200
    Air India
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier
    Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport
    Year Founded:
    Star Alliance
    Campbell Wilson
  • heathrow_17581988126223
    London Heathrow Airport
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    United Kingdom
    John Holland-Kaye
    Passenger Count :
    19,392,178 (2021)
    Runways :
    09L/27R - 3,902m (12,802ft) |09R/27L - 3,660m (12,008ft)
    Terminal 2 |Terminal 3 |Terminal 4 |Terminal 5