Air India places huge Boeing and Airbus aircraft orders

Air India has agreed to massive aircraft orders with both Boeing and Airbus, part of a plan by the recently privatized carrier to grow aggressively over the next five years.

The carrier has made firm orders on 470 aircraft, including 250 from Airbus and 220 from Boeing. Air India also has options on 70 more Boeing aircraft. 

From Boeing, Air India will purchase 190 narrowbody 737 Max jets, with an option to purchase 50 more. The airline will also support planned international expansion with the acquisition of 20 widebody 787-9 Dreamliners and 10 777-9 aircraft, with an option to take on 20 additional Dreamliners. The order, once finalized, will be the largest Boeing order in South Asia. 

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With Airbus, Air India has reached purchase terms for 210 narrowbody A320neo series aircraft and 40 widebody planes. The twin-aisle orders include 34 A350-1000s and six of the smaller A350-900s. 

“These new airplanes will enable us to dramatically expand our network, both domestically and internationally, and will come with a completely new, world-class onboard product enabling passengers to travel in the highest levels of comfort and safety,” Air India CEO Campbell Wilson said in a prepared statement.

The first Airbus deliveries are slated for later this year. Boeing didn’t specify delivery timelines.

The twin Air India orders, which had been widely anticipated, will move the company forward with the transformation plan it announced in September. Dubbed, Vihaan.AI, which in Sanskrit alludes to the dawn of a new era, the plan calls for Air India to more than triple its domestic market share and grow its international network by 2027, while also revamping its on-board product, improving operational reliability and enhancing its technology suite. 

Tata Group’s ambitious Air India plan

The ambitious initiative was put in place by the Air India’s new ownership, the Tata Group, which acquired the airline from the state of India in January 2022 for $2.4 billion.

Tata Group, which founded the carrier in the 1930s before turning it over to the Indian state in the 1950s, initiated another substantial step for Air India in November when it announced its intent to fold the other airline it owns, India-based Vistara, into Air India. Subject to regulatory approval, Tata Group hopes to complete the merger by next year. 

As part of that announcement, Singapore Airlines, which jointly owns Vistara with Tata, agreed to invest an additional $250 million for a 25.1% stake in the enlarged Air India Group, which also includes Air India Express and AirAsia India.

Air India is currently operating nine routes to the U.S., including new Mumbai-New York JFK service, which launched Tuesday.

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