Air India to spend over $400 million to refurbish cabin interiors

An Air India Airbus A320 aircraft takes off from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Air India would spend more than $400 million to refurbish the interiors of its entire wide-body fleet to attract more flyers after the carrier was taken over by Indian conglomerate Tata Group at the start of this year, it said on Thursday.

The refurbishment will involve introduction of a premium economy cabin, it said in a statement, adding that the first aircraft with refurbished interiors will enter service in mid-2024.

"Air India has committed to attain the highest standards of product and service befitting of a world class airline. We know that, at present, the cabin product on our 40 legacy widebody aircraft falls short of this standard," the company said.

The airline is working closely with partners to speed up the refit process and is leasing at least 11 new widebody aircraft with brand new interiors in the meantime, it added.

Once known for its lavishly decorated planes and stellar service, state-owned Air India was swept into a downward spiral due to mounting debt and ballooning losses. The carrier drew flak for poor maintenance and delays as it struggled to pay staff and suppliers on time.

The troubled airline, which had been up for sale for years, was taken over by the Tata Group in January after winning a $2.4 billion bid.

Last month, Tata said it was merging Air India with Vistara, its joint venture with Singapore Airlines, to create a bigger full-service carrier that will strengthen its presence in domestic and international markets.

(Reporting by Nishit Navin in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Dhanya Ann Thoppil)