Air India sets record with purchase of 500 Airbus, Boeing jets

NEW DELHI, India: Air India announced that it has placed record orders for 470 jets from Airbus and Boeing, as part of the airline’s re-structuring under its new owner, Tata Group.

Following the announcement, Europe and the US hailed the deepening economic and political ties with New Delhi.

In December, Reuters reported that Air India was ordering a record of nearly 500 passenger jets.

As Air India competes with domestic giant IndiGo to serve the world’s second largest population, the provisional contracts, which involve purchasing 220 planes from Boeing and 250 from Airbus, is larger than any previous orders from a single airline.

In a telephone discussion with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden called the agreement "historic."

Tata Chairman N Chandrasekaran said that the Airbus order includes 210 A320neo narrowbody aircraft and 40 A350 widebody aircraft, which Air India will use to fly "ultra-long routes."

Meanwhile, Boeing will provide 190 737 MAX aircraft, 20 787 Dreamliners and 10 mini-jumbo 777Xs, he added.

After being appointed the new Air India CEO, Campbell Wilson has worked to restore the airline’s reputation and shake off its negative image of having an aging fleet and poor service.

The first group of 25 new Boeing 737 MAX planes and six Airbus A350s will arrive in the second half of 2023.

The record deal exceeds American Airlines’ combined deal for 460 Airbus and Boeing planes more than a decade ago, and aims to put Air India in the league of the largest global airlines.

It is also part of a strategy to recapture a large proportion of the travel market comprising India’s diaspora and cities, such as New Delhi and Mumbai, which are currently dominated by foreign rivals, such as Emirates Airlines.

It also aims to place Air India in a stronger position to compete with domestic rival IndiGo.