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Air India’s Modernization Set in Stone After Inking Deal with Boeing

An Air India Express Boeing 737 landing at Singapore Changi Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fangzhong Guo)

It has not even been a few hours since the Indian airline’s deal with Airbus was officially announced and another deal, albeit known and expected, with Boeing has also been announced. U.S. President Joe Biden has applauded the deal, the sticker price for the same being $34 billion.

According to sources, the American manufacturer will supply a total of 220 aircraft. The deal means that the total outstanding orders of Air India stand at 470 aircraft. Two hundred fifty of those orders are to the French aircraft manufacturer, Airbus.

Boeing is no stranger to the Indian skies. It currently holds a 100% share of widebody aircraft in the country. Several airlines in the country are loyal and regular customers of the Boeing 737 family aircraft including the ill-reputed Boeing 737 MAX.

The fact that the Indian carrier has placed significant orders with both manufacturers has a certain thinking and logic behind it.

Air India is owned by the privately owned global conglomerate, the Tata Group of India. The airline was a loss-making government venture, and hence the process for privatization was started in 2017. The same ended with the Tata Group gaining control of two airlines- Air India and a subsidiary called Air India Express. Additionally, the Tata Group owns majority stakes in full-cost carrier Vistara and the low-cost carrier Air Asia India.

The mega deal with Airbus and Boeing enables upgradation and fleet modernization as and where required.

Ever since the Tata Group had all four airlines under its belt, speculation and professional opinion point to the fact that at some point or other, the number of airlines will be reduced through a consolidation of operations.

Air India has a mixed fleet of both manufacturers. Vistara also has aircraft from both manufacturers. Air India Express operates 737s exclusively. Air Asia India operates A320s exclusively.

Which aircraft will be placed where or with which airline depends on the requirements of the airline and the judgment of the management. Nevertheless, this entire deal could be called a masterstroke since by signing both deals, the needs of multiple airlines under the parent group will be able to solve.

Aircraft distribution by manufacturer:

Airbus Boeing
Narrowbody Widebody Narrowbody Widebody
140 x A320NEO 40 x A350 XWB 190 x 737MAX 20 x 787
70 x A321NEO 10 x 777-9
Total: 210 Total: 40 Total: 190 Total: 30



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