Air India to triple current aircraft fleet in a few years -CEO

Air India passenger aircraft is seen on the tarmac at Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport in Mumbai

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Air India plans to triple its current fleet of 113 aircraft in a few years as it inducts new aircraft and refurbishes older planes as part of a bigger overhaul, Chief Executive Officer Campbell Wilson said on Tuesday.

Tata group-owned Air India has said that it would increase its fleet by a record 470 aircraft, funding the $70 billion order with internal cash, equity and through sale-and-leasebacks.

The airline will purchase 220 of the planes from Boeing and 250 from Airbus.

The airline, which was once considered a world-class service in India, saw its image tarnish in the mid-2000s due to financial troubles, an ageing fleet and poor service.

Air India is also in talks with other airlines that are a part of the Star Alliance group of carriers to enhance cooperation, Campell said at a press conference.

The airline has said it is spending $400 million on refurbishing and upgrading its planes, especially on long-haul routes as it looks to compete with bigger rivals such as Emirates.

(Reporting by Aditi Shah, Writing by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Savio D'Souza)