Wednesday, 01 February 2023 07:15

Air India moves forward with purchase of half of 495 new aircraft

NEW DELHI, India: Marking a year since the Tata Group took control of Air India, the former state-run carrier has purchased half of an order for some 495 jets with Boeing and engine suppliers General Electric and CFM International.

After months of closely guarded, tough negotiations, Air India is set to place an order for 190 Boeing 737 MAX narrowbody planes, as well as some 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777X.

The second half of the order, which industry sources said includes about 235 Airbus single-aisle jets and 40 Airbus A350 widebody aircraft, is expected to be wrapped up over the coming days.

Senior Boeing officials, including Stanley Deal, chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, along with GE and CFM executives, are expected in India to mark the closing of the purchase this week.

Air India did not respond to a request for comment, but in a note to employees, marking its first anniversary under Tata’s ownership, the airline said it is "finalizing a historic order of new aircraft to power future growth."

Reuters reported last month that Air India was closing in on a deal for about 500 jets.

The order, once finalized, aims to put Air India in the league of large global airlines and make it an influential customer for plane manufacturers and suppliers at a time when its home market is seeing a strong post-COVID-19 travel surge.

Air India has set a goal to corner 30 percent of the domestic market over the next five years, thus narrowing the gap with market leader IndiGo. It also wants to increase by "multiples" its share of international travel, the airline’s chief executive, Campbell Wilson, has said.