The Indian flag carrier has announced bumper orders with Airbus and Boeing
Air India is poised to embark on a comprehensive fleet renewal programme after concluding multi-billion-dollar deals with Airbus and Boeing.
The Tata Group-owned flag carrier confirmed today (February 14, 2023) it will acquire 250 aircraft from the European manufacturer as it looks to overhaul its domestic and international operations. This consists of 140 A320neos and 70 A321neos, along with 34 A350-1000s and six A350-900s. Deliveries are due to start later this year.
“Airbus has been a longstanding partner of Air India, and these new aircraft will play an important part in delivering our comprehensive transformation and growth strategy,” the airline’s CEO and MD Campbell Wilson commented. “A core element of this transformation is the significant expansion of our network, both domestically and internationally, coupled with the elevation of our on-ground and onboard product to world-class standards. This order marks the start of a new chapter for both Airbus and Air India.”
Airbus’ chief commercial officer and head of international, Christian Scherer, added: “This is a historic moment for Airbus and for Air India. India is on the verge of an international air travel revolution and we are honoured that our partnership with the Tatas and our aircraft solutions will write that new chapter for the country’s air-connectivity
“The Airbus A350’s unique capability will unlock the pent-up potential of India’s long-haul market, its technology, long reach and second to none comfort will enable new routes and passenger experience with better economics and enhanced sustainability. Alongside the A350s, the A320 Family fleets will be the efficient, versatile asset to continue democratising and decarbonising air travel in the country – from domestic, regional, up to international levels.
“We salute Air India for its visionary strategy, picking the two reference aircraft types in each of their categories. We are thrilled and humbled to see these aircraft become the cornerstones of Air India’s renaissance. This fleet will propel the airline globally where it deserves to be - with the best.
A foot in both camps
The Airbus announcement came just minutes after Air India announced a similarly impressive commitment with its US rival for up to 290 single-aisle and widebody airliners, together with a “comprehensive set of aviation services”.
The deal – Boeing’s biggest ever in South Asia – consists of 190 737 MAX 8s and 10s, a further 20 787 Dreamliners to complement the 27 examples it already has in service, and 10 777Xs. It also includes purchase options for up to 50 more 737 MAXs and 20 Dreamliners.
Reflecting on the carrier’s second order, Wilson said it took Air India’s relationship with Boeing “to a new level.” He continued: “These new airplanes… will come with a completely new, world-class onboard product enabling passengers to travel in the highest levels of comfort and safety.”
Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes noted: “Air India's selection of Boeing's family of passenger jets shows their confidence in our products and services in the world's fastest growing aviation market, and their decision will support engineering and manufacturing jobs at Boeing factories in Washington state, South Carolina and across our supply base.”
The airline has also contracted Boeing Global Services for maintenance and support services, including, including digital solutions, spare parts and landing gear exchange programs, pilot and maintenance technician training, aircraft modifications and other services.
The Airbus and Boeing orders are a key element of Air India’s Vihaan.AI five-year transformation roadmap, rolled out by parent Tata following its acquisition of the airline and its regional offshoot Air India Express from the Indian Government in 2022. It is intended to put the group “on a path to sustained growth, profitability and market leadership.”
India has seen several major aircraft deals over the last decade though Air India’s collective announcement is the country’s biggest to date, dwarfing the 300 A320neos ordered by low-cost rival Indigo in October 2019; fellow budget carrier SpiceJet also has commitments for up to 205 737 MAXs.