Airbus expects India to need 222 new planes by 2019

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[updated:LAST EDITED ON 03-02-03 AT 03:32 PM (GMT)]This will be a interesting battleground between Airbus and Boeing!

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European aircraft maker Airbus said on Monday it expected India to buy about 222 aircraft over the next 15 years, and hoped to sell about half of them, including a current 43-jet deal.
Airbus estimates India's demand for 222 jets until 2019 to be worth $17.5 billion, said David Velupillai, spokesman for Airbus, which is 80 per cent owned by European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is expected to persuade Indian government officials this week to help Airbus get approval to sell 43 A320s worth $2.0 billion to state-controlled Indian Airlines, whose board selected Airbus last March.

Raffarin is due to visit India this week and attend the Aero India show in Bangalore.

"Hopefully, in the coming days and weeks, we'll find approval from the government," Velupillai told a news conference.

He said Airbus estimated in 1999 that all but 14 of India's 112-strong fleet of aircraft needed to be replaced over 20 years, and the nation's airlines would need to add another 124 jets to meet increasing traffic.

"We'll be competing for that market with Boeing," Velupillai said. "We are hopeful of getting at least 50 per cent of that."

Last December, rival Boeing Co said India would need 290 jet airliners worth $22 billion over the next 20 years.

Asia and India have been less affected than elsewhere by the downturn in international air travel following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, aviation industry officials say.

Velupillai said Airbus expected state-controlled Indian Airlines and international Air-India to account for the bulk of the emerging demand.

Airbus is also hoping to sell its A330/340s, classified as medium-capacity-long-range, to Air-India, besides targeting its Airbus Corporate Jetliners for the government to transport VIPs, Velupillai said.

Airbus expects the A340 to be attractive to Air-India because it can fly non-stop to the United States, a key market.

Air-India plans to buy 17 long-haul aircraft to modernise its fleet. Airbus would be rivaled in the deal by Boeing's 777-200s.

India, the world's 12th-largest economy, has a large expatriate population in the United States, Britain and the Middle East that drives air travel to and from India.

Last month, Air-India's board decided to open financial bids for 17 long-range jets, which are planned to be acquired over the next five years. The jets have more than 250 passenger seats.

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http://www.rediff.com/money/2003/feb/03air.htm
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