Saturday, February 11, 2023

Maharaja's record order: Tata's Air India set to buy 500 aircraft

Mumbai: In one of the biggest ever aircraft orders, Air India is all set to order almost 500 aircraft. These include 400 single aisles — 210 Airbus A320 neo family and 190 Boeing 737 Max.

Then there are 70 twin aisles — 40 A350s, 20 B787s and 10 B777X.

At list price, the ordered aircraft — 250 Airbus and 220 Boeings — will be worth $150 billion and are set to be delivered over the next eight years.

Simultaneously, the Tata Group has signed deals for engines original equipment manufacturers for these aircraft. In addition to these firm orders, AI will have many planes as options also Air India, Airbus and Boeing did not comment on this.

The Tatas are in the midst of merging erstwhile AirAsia India into Air India Express to create a big low cost carrier (LCC) and merging Vistara into AI to create a big full service carrier (FSC).

The Boeing 737 Max will go to the mega LCC that is being created and will be under the AI umbrella. The other aircraft will go to FSC AI, with the single aisles operating on domestic and nearby international routes.

The wide bodies will be used for medium (Europe and far east), long (east coast of North America) and ultra long haul (west coast) nonstops.

The integrated AI aims to garner 30% market share on both the domestic and international front.

The big order is a boost for Boeing which till recently did not have any financially stable airline customer in India till late Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-funded Akasa took to the skies last year. It has not delivered even a single B737 Max to cash-strapped SpiceJet post-Covid while the airline has large number of them on order. The US major’s last success was with Jet Airways which stopped flying in April 2019. AI’s current wide body fleet is entirely Boeing — a mix of 747s (which have now been phased out); B787 Dreamliner and B777s.

Airbus, on the other hand, has IndiGo as the world’s largest customer for the best-selling A320neo family of aircraft. Its other customers include GoAir with both these two low cost carriers having hinders of A320neos on order.

11/02/23 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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