Air India on Tuesday announced a 470-aircraft order with Airbus and Boeing, including 260 widebody planes, the largest order ever from any Indian airline and among the largest globally.
The airline had last placed an order for aircraft 17 years ago and this is the first since the carrier’s sale to Tata Sons.
The order comprises 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777-9s widebody aircraft. The narrow-bodies include 210 Airbus A320 and 321 Neos and 190 Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle aircraft. The A350 aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce engines, and the B777 or 787s by engines from GE Aerospace. All single-aisle aircraft will be powered by engines from CFM International. The last order from the airline was in 2006 when it signed a deal for 68 Boeing and 43 Airbus aircraft.
“It is not just the largest order ever made by an Indian airline, it is one of the largest single aircraft orders by any airline, anywhere, ever, and testifies to India’s unique combination of extraordinary scale and growth opportunity,” Air India CEO Campbell Wilson said in an internal mail to airline employees.
The airline said in a statement that the first of the new aircraft will enter service in late-2023, and the bulk will begin to arrive from mid-2025 onwards.
As an interim measure, Air India has already started taking delivery of 11 leased B777 and 25 A320 aircraft in order to grow capacity. The Air India Group, which currently includes Air India, AirAsia India, Vistara and Air India Express, have a total of 232 aircraft among them. Once the various entities are merged, the Air India Group will have a single full-service airline, Air India and a single low-cost airline, Air India Express.
It is Boeing’s third largest sale of all time, in dollar value, and its second of all time in quantity.
“This purchase will support over 1 million American jobs across 44 states, and many will not require a four-year college degree, said President Joe Biden. “This announcement also reflects the strength of the U.S.-India economic partnership. Together with Prime Minister Modi, I look forward to deepening our partnership even further as we continue to confront shared global challenges—creating a more secure and prosperous future for all of our citizens.”
The airline is buying 40 wide-body A350 Airbus aircraft and another 210 narrow-body A320neo planes, Tata Sons Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran said in a videoconference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron regarding the agreement between Air India and Airbus.
The Toulouse, France-based plane maker did not disclose financial terms of the deal, which could be worth tens of billions of dollars.
“Today is a historic moment for India, for Air India and for Airbus,” Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said in the video call. The size of the order “demonstrates the appetite for growth in the Indian aviation industry. It’s the fastest growing in the world.”
Mr. Chandrasekaran said the A350s will be used to “fly all ultra long distance across the globe.” Single-aisle A320s are typically used on short-haul routes. He said the airline has “significant options” to increase its order.
Mr. Modi and Mr. Macron applauded the deal, with both saying it’s a sign of the strengthening “strategic partnership” between their countries.
“India is going to be the world’s third-largest market in the aviation sector,” Mr. Modi said. Over the next 15 years, it’s estimated that India will need more than 2,000 aircraft and “today’s historic announcement will help in meeting this growing demand,” he said.
Mr. Macron called the deal a “new success” in the strategic partnership between India and France and an opportunity to “develop new areas of cooperation with India.”
(With inputs from agencies)