India’s flag carrier has had a long history that, in recent years, has largely been remembered for a merger with Indian Airlines back in the mid-2000s. Since then, the airline has been one of the most prominent carriers flying to and from India, outlasting Jet Airways in the full-service market, while lurching from one financial crunch to the next. Nevertheless, the airline has played an integral role in India’s massive repatriation effort. Here are the oldest planes flying for this long-running airline.
A fleet overview
Before we dive into the oldest specific aircraft, it is important to recognize the types of planes Air India is flying. The airline has essentially divided its fleet quite cleanly. All of the carrier’s narrowbodies are Airbus aircraft while, on the widebody side, all of those jets are Boeing aircraft. For the purposes of this article, we will focus only on Air India’s fleet and exclude that of its subsidiaries like Air India Express.
According to data from Planespotters.net, Air India has a fleet of 126 aircraft. This is broken into:
- 21 of the A319s
- Nine of the A320ceos
- 27 A320neos
- 20 Airbus A321s
- Four Boeing 747-400s
- Three Boeing 777-200LRs
- 15 Boeing 777-200ERs
- 27 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners
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The 747s are the oldest
The iconic and venerable Boeing 747s are the oldest aircraft in Air India’s fleet. VT-ESO, the oldest of the type, is about 27 years old, having flown with the carrier since 1993. Recently, the aircraft has been in service on high-profile domestic routes. Data from Flightradar24 shows that the airline has been flying this specific aircraft from Delhi to Mumbai and Hyderabad.
VT-ESO is followed up by 16-year-old VT-ESP, 24-year-old VT-EVA, and VT-EVB, which is also 24 years old. The Boeing 747-400s seat 12 passengers in first up in the nose, 26 in business on the upper deck of the plane, and 385 in coach on the main deck behind the forward set of doors. First class is in a 2-2 configuration, as is business class. The forward section of economy class is in a 3-3-3 configuration while the remainder is in a standard 3-4-3 configuration.
Next up: the A319s and A321s
There is around a ten-year gap in age comparing the A319s to the Boeing 747s. The oldest A319, which is also the fifth oldest plane in Air India’s fleet, is VT-SCB. Along with VT-SCC, these two aircraft are 15 years old. At 14 years old, these are followed up by VT-SCF.
The next three oldest planes are Airbus A321s. All of these, VT-PPA, VT-PPB, VT-PPD, arranged from oldest to youngest, are 13 years old.
What about the widebodies?
The 11th oldest plane in Air India’s fleet, after the ten mentioned above, is a Boeing 777-300ER registered as VT-ALJ. This aircraft is 13 years old and is painted in a special “Star Alliance” livery.
Younger by a smidge comes VT-ALK, which is painted in the standard Air India livery and just a few months younger than VT-ALJ, but still 13 years old.
As for the 787s, these planes are some of the newest in Air India’s fleet, save for the A320neos. The Dreamliners have only flown for Air India for about eight years. The oldest Dreamliner, VT-AND, is only nine years old, having spent almost a year with Boeing doing some test flights before making its way over to Air India.
What is the oldest Air India plane you’ve flown on? Let us know in the comments!