Exclusive: Air India nears historic order for up to 500 jets

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PARIS/NEW DELHI, Dec. 11 (Reuters) – Air India is poised to place landmark orders for a staggering 500 jetliners worth tens of billions of dollars from both Airbus and Boeing as it embarks on an ambitious renaissance under the Tata Group conglomerate the industry achieves. sources said on Sunday.

The orders include as many as 400 narrow-body jets and 100 or more wide-body jets, including dozens of Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s and 777s, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity as final touches are made to the mammoth deal in the coming days . .

Such a deal could reach $100 billion at list prices, including any options, and be among the largest by volume for a single airline, making a combined order for 460 Airbus and Boeing jets from American Airlines more than a decade ago. overshadows.

Even after significant anticipated discounts, the deal would be worth tens of billions of dollars and cap off a volatile year for airline giants whose planes are back in demand after the pandemic but face mounting industrial and environmental pressures.

It would also allow Airbus to secure a home for a number of A350 production slots initially earmarked for Russia’s Aeroflot and now open due to war-related sanctions against Moscow.

Airbus (AIR.PA) and Boeing declined to comment. Air India, owned by the Tata Group, did not respond to a request for comment.

China delivered its first C919 jetliner last week, but it is still at least a decade away from competing on such a scale, experts say.

The potential blockbuster order comes days after Tata announced the merger of Air India with Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines, to create a larger full-service airline and strengthen its presence in domestic and international airspace.

That deal gives Tata a fleet of 218 aircraft, making Air India the largest international airline in the country and the second largest in the domestic market after leader IndiGo (INGL.NS)

Buying debt-ridden Air India has also given Tata access to valuable flight rights and landing slots, particularly to destinations in the United States and Europe.

OBSTACLES TO GROWTH

Air India’s Maharaja mascot was once synonymous with lavishly decorated aircraft and great service, but its reputation waned in the mid-2000s as financial hardship increased.

Air India was founded in 1932 by JRD Tata and was nationalized in 1953. Tata regained control in January and has since been working to revive its reputation as a world-class airline.

The order reflects a strategy to reclaim much of the travel between India’s large overseas diaspora and cities like Delhi and Mumbai dominated by foreign rivals like Emirates.

Air India also wants to capture a larger share of regional international traffic and the domestic market and is competing with IndiGo on both fronts.

The 500 jets, to be delivered over the next decade, would replace and expand fleets in the world’s fastest growing air travel market, while contributing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of expanding the economy to $5 trillion.

But experts warn that Air India’s ambition to regain a stronghold in the world has been hampered by many hurdles, including weak domestic infrastructure, a shortage of pilots and the threat of tough competition from incumbent airlines and other airlines. .

It may also be difficult to get the ordered medium-haul Airbus A321neos for the Air India-Vista connection as quickly as it would like, as the European aircraft manufacturer is sold out until 2028 or beyond.

An industry source said new Boeing 737 MAXs will most likely go to Air India Express, the company’s budget operator that could be rebranded.

Insiders say aircraft and engine manufacturers have been clamoring at Air India’s door for months, with new Chief Executive Campbell Wilson refusing to rush the make-or-break fleet decision.

Reuters reported in July that Air India was taking more time to study Airbus A350s and Boeing wide-body 787 and 777 models, on top of a likely mixed order for smaller single-aisle jets.

Last month, Campbell confirmed talks to “significantly expand” Air India’s fleet over the next five years, saying, “At the risk of gross understatement, the investment will be significant.”

Reporting by Tim Hepher, Aditi Shah; Edited by Jane Merriman and Crispian Balmer

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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