Air India to buy 250 Airbus aircraft in largest deal in aviation history

Air India has Airbus A350s on order.
Image Credit: Airbus

LONDON – After many months of speculation and rumour, Tata Group airline Air India has just brokered the largest aircraft purchase deal in aviation history.

Indian news sources are carrying the breaking news that the Group is to purchase 250 aircraft from manufacturer Airbus. National news source NDTV reports that the breakdown of Airbus aircraft will include 40 A350 aircraft with the remaining 210 aircraft being narrow body aircraft.

Though details have yet to be confirmed, there is speculation that these are likely to be A320neo family variants.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury has now reportedly spoken via video conference with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron and other leaders.

CEO Faury characterised the arrangement as an “historic moment for Airbus.” Mr Faury went on to say that the acquisition would “help script Air India’s revival.”

Part completion of bulk purchase

Since taking over the airline, Tata Group has been negotiating with aircraft manufacturers over the past year, with a view to fleet refurbishment. Air India has plans to increase its market share of both international and domestic networks to 30% over the coming five years.

Whilst the Airbus acquisition of 250 aircraft is history making in itself, it represents just under half of the full aircraft purchase for the Indian airline.

It has been floated for some time that the full purchase, which will include an intake from both key manufacturers Airbus and Boeing, will run out to some 470 aircraft.

The finalization of the remaining 220 aircraft, to be acquired from Boeing, has yet to be announced.

Although not formally disclosed at the time of writing, the value of the Airbus acquisition alone is expected to be in the region of $100 billion.

Update – Airbus confirmation

Airbus have now released a formal statement, clarifying the specifics of the acquisition. The commitment includes 140 A320neo and 70 A321neo single-aisle aircraft as well as 34 A350-1000 and six A350-900 wide-body jets.

The order aims to both modernise and expand the airline’s fleet with the objective of creating a larger and premium full-service carrier that will cater to the growing travel demand in the region.

Deliveries are set to commence with the first A350-900 arriving by late-2023.

Image Credit: Airbus

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
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