Air India’s deal with two of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers — Airbus and Boeing — is for 840 planes. Of the total, the Tata Group-run airline has placed an order for 470 planes; the remaining 370 are options, said Nipun Aggarwal, the airline’s chief commercial and transformation officer, late on Wednesday night.
“The order comprises 470 firm aircraft, 370 options and purchase rights to be procured from Airbus and Boeing over the next decade. The Airbus firm order comprises 210 A320/321neo/XLR and 40 A350-900/1000. The Boeing firm order comprises 190 B737MAX, 20 B787, and 10 B777. We have also signed up for long-term maintenance of engines with CFM International, Rolls-Royce, and GE Aerospace," Aggarwal wrote on LinkedIn on Wednesday night.
Air India on Tuesday said it had placed an order for 250 planes with Europe’s Airbus and 220 planes with US’ Boeing. This is the world’s largest single-tranche aircraft deal ever made in commercial aviation history.
Aggarwal said in the post: “It is indeed a landmark moment in the history of Air India and Indian aviation. This order of 840 aircraft has been a culmination of a fascinating journey that began almost two years ago, starting with the Air India privatisation process.” He also added: “This order demonstrates the vision and aspiration of Tata Group to transform Air India into a world-class airline and connect India non-stop to every major city in the world. This order is also testament to the tremendous economic potential unleashed by the Air India privatisation.”
The airline has not formally disclosed when deliveries of these planes will commence. However, Airbus has stated that deliveries of the A350s will begin this year. Sources also informed that the deliveries of the A320neo family of planes could start from 2026.
According to sources, the A350s and the B777s will primarily be used on India-North America routes, while the B787s will operate on other long-haul destinations — and a few short-haul routes as well.
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The A350, B777, and the B787 are wide-body aircraft with bigger fuel tanks, allowing them to traverse long distances such as India-North America routes.
Sources said while the wide-body planes may be purchased by the airline, the narrow-body ones (A320neo and B737MAX) could be taken under the sale-and-leaseback model.
Under the sale-and-leaseback model, a new aircraft is sold to a lessor, who immediately leases it back to the airline, helping the carrier free up cash flow. Moreover, the airline has secured extensive support commitments from aircraft makers and engine manufacturers, mentioned sources.
They said Air India could deploy some narrow-body aircraft on international routes as well. The carrier is developing a training academy to prepare significant manpower — especially cockpit and cabin crew — for the incoming fleet, they added.
When the legacy fleet (old planes) is retired, Air India’s fleet will be no more complex than many of the other world-leading carriers, observed sources.