Air India to double in size over five years

Mumbai: Indian flag carrier, Air India, has said it will likely double its fleet size to 272 aircraft over five years, even as it strives to cut costs and reduce losses.

According to Gustav Baldauf, the recently appointed chief operating officer, who joined the carrier last year April, the carrier's consultants  have said the Indian aviation market will grow to 150 million passengers by 2015 from the current 72 million, and that any aviation  company will have to expand in such a market.

Baldauf stressed the carrier won't be able to reduce its losses by shrinking.

"We expect Deloitte to approve the plan this week, following which, we will submit it to the government," he said.

As part of that plan, Air India isn't likely to make any fresh plane order, Baldauf said. Instead, it will lease planes as a more cost-effective solution. About 15% of Air India's fleet is leased and the figure will likely climb to 40% by 2015, he added.

According to Baldauf, the fleet expansion plan will compel the company to hire atleast 1,500 additional cabin crew staff.