After months of intense negotiations with the aviation industry's two aerospace giants, Airbus and Boeing, Air India has finally reached a deal to purchase nearly 500 aircraft.
Since Indian supergiant TATA Group's full acquisition of Air India in January of 2022, the group has had grand visions for the stagnating flag carrier Air India. In the space of just a year, the mega-conglomerate has announced plans to merge with another large Indian airline, Vistara. This announcement just appears to be the next phase of TATA's plan to create an Indian super airline.
Boeing - The $34 Billion Order
On Tuesday, February 14, U.S. President Joe Biden announced Air India's deal with Boeing. It comprises 90 737 MAX jets (including -8, and -10 variants), 20 787 Dreamliners, and 10 of the company's novel 777Xs. The agreement also includes options for 20 additional 787-9s, and 50 737 MAXs should the airline decide it needs to boost its aircraft capacity. When the order goes through, it will become the third largest in the company's history and Boeing's largest in Southeast Asia.
Commenting on the Boeing half of the order, Campbell Wilson, the CEO, and MD of Air India stated:
"This acquisition of nearly 300, highly advanced Boeing jets is a core element...[of] the comprehensive transformation and growth strategy we are pursuing at Air India...".
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The new 737 MAXs will provide Air India with a new era of route flexibility, allowing the carrier to serve medium-haul destinations that still have sufficient demand for a narrow-body, but not enough to be served by the airline's larger 787s or A321s.
As for the 777-9X on order, Air India wants extra capacity on its long-haul routes to accompany the already rather small 45-aircraft long-haul fleet.
Airbus - The Equally Matched Order ($34 billion)
French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared with Airbus to announce the agreement between the two nations' super companies during the press conference.
The commitment between Air India and Airbus is for 140 A320neos, 70 A321neos, 34 A350-1000s, and six A350-900s. This shows Air India's new shift in the propensity for Airbus wide-bodies as opposed to their preference for Boeing wide-bodies in the past.
Shortly after the announcement of the second landmark order of the day, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, took to Twitter stating that the agreement will "further strengthen the Indian aviation sector and create opportunities in both nations...[This] reflects the robust Indo-French Strategic Partnership."
Hopefully A Turn-Around
Air India was founded on the 15th of October 1932 by Indian aviation pioneer J.R.D. Tata. The airline has long since seen its glory days due to mismanagement, bad onboard products that prompted lower passenger numbers, and financial crises.
This event, possibly the biggest in Air India's 90-year history, will hopefully mark a turning point for the future of the carrier, paving the way for it to become one of the world's newest super-carriers.
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