With contributions from Jamie Clarke
LONDON – Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury has visited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the speculation over a major Air India order continues.
Faury said the following on the visit:
ICYMI: Airbus Battling With Boeing over Air India Order…
Over the past week, details surfaced that the Indian flag carrier, Air India, is close to signing a major deal with American aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing for Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
The Hindu Business Line has revealed that Air India is close to signing its first major aircraft order since the airline was handed back to private hands under Tata Group, who also subsequently own another Indian carrier, named Vistara, as well as Singapore Airlines.
The order is rumored to be for 50 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, at which the variants are currently unknown if the order will be for the MAX 8, 9, or 10, or even a mix.
Not only this but there could be options to add a further 100 Boeing 737 MAXs to their fleet, for a potential total of 150 of the type.
This could turn out to be Air India’s largest-ever aircraft order for any type.
At present, Air India operates a total of 112 aircraft; this is broken down as; 18 Airbus A319s, nine Airbus A320ceos, 27 Airbus A320neos, 14 Airbus A321ceos for their narrow body fleet, and four Boeing 777-200LRs, 13 Boeing 777-300ERs and 27 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners for their wide-body fleet.
As part of Air India’s five-year transformation plan, the carrier will also be receiving 21 more Airbus A320neos, four Airbus A321neos, 4 more Boeing 777-200LRs, and six more Boeing 777-300ERs.
A Transformative Period Ahead…
It has also been announced only a few weeks ago that Tata Group, alongside Singapore Airlines, will be merging Air India with Vistara to form India’s leading airline group.
As part of this agreement, Singapore Airlines will be investing INR 20,585 million (US$250 million) into Air India, which will give Singapore Airlines a 25.1% stake in the entire merger.
Vistara’s Chief Executive Officer, Vinod Kannan, has commented on the merger, “It is yet to be seen if the well-known brand Vistara would be diluted or continue operating as an independent entity.”
“These are all discussions that are currently ongoing.”
“Ultimately, there will be a much bigger Air India – a combined carrier that will incorporate all four brands that the Tata Group currently owns.”
“At this stage, till the necessary regulatory approvals come ahead, the airline will continue operating separately.”
“We are operating independently of Air India when it comes to both commercial and customer focus because that is the deal as competitors.”
It remains clear that the battle continues between Airbus and Boeing in terms of who will get more of the majority of the order from Air India.
All eyes will be on the Indian carrier & TATA Sons to establish who they will go for or whether it will indeed be a split order.
What has to be remembered is that Airbus was spotted in India over the Summer with their Airbus A350XWB aircraft, which triggered speculation about a potential order during Farnborough, which never happened.
Either way, it’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks ahead to see what sort of announcement is made.