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Air India Inks Massive Order for 250 Aircraft from Airbus

Air India’s inaugural departure to Delhi from Dulles (Photo: J David Buerk Photography)

The flag carrier of India, Air India has officially announced its deal to purchase 250 aircraft from Airbus of France. After much speculation and rumors, this deal was considered finalized by most people awaiting just an official announcement from all the involved parties.

This deal is in line with the policy of the TATA Group, the new owners of Air India. They are renewing and breathing life into the dilapidated and loss-making airline.

In a live stream, the deal was announced in the presence of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; N Chandrasekaran, the Chairman of Tata Sons; Guillame Faury, the CEO of Airbus and Ratan Tata.

As mentioned, the deal involves the purchase of 250 aircraft, a combination of widebody and narrowbody aircraft. Airbus has the A350 and the A330NEO as available options for widebody aircraft. The Indian carrier has opted for 40 A350s. It is not yet known which variant of the same has been ordered.

The France-based aircraft manufacturer has the A320 family and the A220 family on offer for narrowbody aircraft. The oldest Indian airline already has 68 planes of the A320 family [Source: Planespotters.net]. It is yet to be announced as to which narrowbody aircraft will be selected. However, logically speaking, the chances of more A320 family aircraft entering service are highly probable.

However, this is not all.

Air India was a government-owned entity, which was sold to the TATA Group in 2022. Incidentally, the airline was started by J.R.D. Tata. The same person started to build a business that has today spread across the globe and the name “TATA” is now known around the world across several sectors.

The 250 aircraft deal is just part of a massive modernization and upgradation plan in the works. Another 220 aircraft will be ordered, speculatively from the American aircraft maker, Boeing.

This brings the sum total of this massive fleet upgradation entailing 470 aircraft orders, which is absolutely enormous.

Additionally, the Tata Group has already invested a good amount of money to upgrade the interiors of its current widebody fleet in order to provide customers an experience with the best comforts and in-flight entertainment. Rumors flying around also state that the airline’s livery might also be updated if not changed.

This deal with Airbus is a massive win for the aerospace giant in India. Some might ask, “India is already filled with Airbus aircraft, how is this a win?” The answer that the French company has won orders for 40 widebody aircraft, ending the monopoly of widebody aircraft being enjoyed by Boeing. The last time an Airbus widebody was in regular use in India was by Jet Airways when it had the A330 in its fleet. However, Jet Airways went belly up in 2019. Since then no Indian airline has operated an Airbus widebody.

This order for 40 A350s beckons a new era of competition among the two aerospace juggernauts, Airbus and Boeing.

India is going through a paradigm shift in its aviation industry across all fronts. Both Airbus and Boeing already had their binoculars trained on the country since before the pandemic because of the massive boom in travel and aviation being predicted.

Each day airlines report figures which have crossed the pre-pandemic levels, an indication that the psyche of Indian travelers has been changed to the extent that they can freely traverse the country by air without irrational fear of Covid-19.

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