Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Delivered most planes to India in 2020: Airbus

New Delhi: India has seen among the fastest revival of domestic air travel globally, with only China ahead of it, after countries started allowing these flights by following Covid protocol. Thanks to this, Airbus says it delivered the highest numbers of aircraft — 57 — to Indian carriers in pandemic 2020, the European aerospace major’s (India & south Asia) president and MD, RĂ©mi Maillard, has told TOI.

“Scheduled domestic flights here were suspended for two months from March 25 to May 25. Domestic air travel now back to 60% of pre-Covid level. No other region, except China, has seen that kind of swift recovery,” he said, while adding that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the industry which is “not yet out of the woods and is still bleeding cash.”

“A number of issues need to be taken care of (in India) like taxation and infrastructure. The pandemic will lead to people preferring to travel direct between India and rest of the world (something which was done largely by transiting via nearby mega hubs in the Gulf and southeast Asia). India has a huge domestic market that can reconfigure the contours of international air travel to and from the country in favour of Indian carriers if the required steps are taken in terms of taxation and infrastructure,” he said.

While Airbus has no plans to have a final assembly line in India — China has one, — the aerospace major says it is firmly committed to the make in India plan. “We are hopeful that India will contribute significantly technologically to the next-gen zero emission hydrogen-powered aircraft Airbus is working on.”

In pandemic 2020, Airbus had delivered 566 aircraft (wide plus narrow bodies) to 87 customers — 34% below its all-time high of 863 in 2019. Its Indian customers got over 10% came of those planes with IndiGo inducting 44 A320/21neos and the remaining 13 going to Vistara, AirAsia India and GoAir. “We are in discussion with some startup airlines in India for aircraft (for aircraft orders),” he said.

America’s Delta and China Southern were delivered 30 and 22 aircraft last year, respectively. While they took a mix of narrow and wide and bodies, Indian carriers took only single aisle A320 and A321neos. Airbus had delivered 566 aircraft (wide plus narrow bodies) last year to 87 customers — 34% below its all-time high of 863 in 2019 — of which 10% came to India.

27/01/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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