Boeing efforts to clinch AI order

NEW DELHI AUG. 26. With the proposal for fleet acquisition of Air India still at the board level, Boeing is making a strong bid to bag the order from India's international carrier. At stake is a multi-million dollar deal for 17 long haul wide-bodied aircraft and 18 short haul passenger planes.

After making its presentation before Air India's evaluation panel about three months ago, the U.S. aircraft manufacturer unveiled the salient features of its two offerings — Boeing 777 and 737-800 — at a media briefing today, claiming that the two planes were best suited for AI operations.

Air India intends to go for ten on a confirmed basis and seven on an optional basis for the long haul, wide-bodied airplanes and 12 confirmed and six optional for small capacity, short-range aircraft.

Dinesh Keskar, president of Boeing Aircraft Trading said that both Boeing 777 and 737- 800 scored over its rivals in terms of cost, fuel efficiency, revenue earnings and maintenance.

He said the firm was ready to offer buy-back guarantees to Air India and even to Indian Airlines if the domestic carrier opted for the Boeing 737 series fleet. He cited the example of Singapore Airlines, which had purchased the long-range 777 aircraft by selling 17 A340s to Boeing.

He said Boeing would be willing to buy back old 737 planes from Alliance Air, the wholly owned subsidiary of Indian Airlines, if the latter bought new passenger planes from the company.

The Indian Airlines' proposal for fleet acquisition — all 43 planes from the Airbus family — is yet to cross the PIB stage. It can seat 305 to 328 passengers in a typical three-class configuration and can fly non-stop on intercontinental routes with a range of 11,000 to 14,000 km.

Referring to the small capacity, short range offering from the Boeing family, 737-800, the official said the aircraft has turned out to be the most popular version of the next generation 737 family.

By December last, Boeing had won 1,082 orders for 737-800s and had delivered 677 to 44 operations around the world.

The aircraft can seat 162 to 189 passengers, has a range of 5,665 km and is capable of cruising to a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet.

The 737-800 incorporates a new, advanced technology wing design that helps increase and improve fuel capacity and efficiency, both of which increase range.

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