(15/02/23) Air India, part of the Tata Sons conglomerate, has signed letters of intent with Airbus and Boeing to acquire both widebody and single-aisle aircraft.
The LOI comprises 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777-9s widebody aircraft, as well as 210 Airbus A320/321 Neos and 190 Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle aircraft.
The A350 aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce engines, while the B777/787s will have engines from GE Aerospace. All the single-aisle aircraft will be powered by engines from CFM International.
Air India Boeing 787-8 reg: VT-ANQ. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com
“India is on the verge of an international air travel revolution and we are honoured that our partnership with the Tatas and our aircraft solutions will write that new chapter for the country’s air-connectivity,” said Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of International. “The A350’s unique capability will unlock the pent-up potential of India’s long-haul market, its technology, long reach and second to none comfort will enable new routes and passenger experience with better economics and enhanced sustainability. Alongside the A350s, the A320 Family fleets will be the efficient, versatile asset to continue democratising and decarbonising air travel in the country – from domestic, regional, up to international levels.”
The first of the new aircraft will enter service in late-2023, with the bulk to arrive from mid-2025 onwards. In the interim, Air India has already started taking delivery of 11 leased B777 and 25 A320 aircraft to accelerate its fleet and network expansion.
The acquisition of new aircraft, which will come with an entirely new cabin interior, complements Air India’s plan to refit its existing widebody B787 and B777 aircraft with new seats and inflight entertainment systems. The first of these refitted aircraft will enter service in mid-2024.
“Air India’s selection of Boeing’s family of passenger jets shows their confidence in our products and services in the world’s fastest growing aviation market, and their decision will support engineering and manufacturing jobs at Boeing factories in Washington state, South Carolina and across our supply base,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “With the industry-leading fuel efficiency of the 737 MAX, 787 Dreamliner and 777X, Air India is well positioned to achieve its expansion plans and become a world-class global airline with an Indian heart.”
The Air India group currently comprises full-service Air India, as well as two low-cost subsidiaries Air India Express and Air Asia India which are in the process of merging.
Tata Sons also recently unveiled plans to merge Air India with full-service airline Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines in which the former holds a 51% share.
Subject to regulatory approval, the group will eventually comprise a single full-service airline, Air India, and a single low cost airline, Air India Express.
“Air India is on a large transformation journey across safety, customer service, technology, engineering, network and human resources. Modern, efficient fleet is a fundamental component of this transformation,” said N Chandrasekaran, Tata Sons and Air India Chairman. “This order is an important step in realising Air India’s ambition, articulated in its Vihaan.AI transformation program, to offer a world class proposition serving global travellers with an Indian heart. These new aircraft will modernise the airline’s fleet and onboard product, and dramatically expand its global network. The growth enabled by this order will also provide unparalleled career opportunities for Indian aviation professionals and catalyse accelerated development of the Indian aviation ecosystem.”