By Will Lee
Air India Expected to Acquire 500 Aircraft
According to Reuters, Air India is on the way to sealing the order of 500 jetliners. The contracts include 400 narrow-body jets and 100 wide-bodies flights from Airbus and Boeing. After being acquired by Tata Group earlier this year, Air India has shown its ambition to remain as a global leader. Earlier, the Indian flag carrier has announced to enhance its fleet by leasing six Boeing B777-300ER.
The new order is forecast to be announced in coming weeks and worth tens of billions of dollars. The potential orders have a wide variety of aircraft, ranging from Airbus A350 XWBs to Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Boeing 777s. Airbus and Boeing have declined to comment. It is expected the new aircraft would expand its fleet and replace some aging aircraft.
Reuters said Air India has been considering the mammoth contract for months. But Campbell Wilson, Chief Executive of the airline don’t want to rush into making a deal.
Earlier, Wilson revealed the potential order, “We are in deep discussion with Boeing, Airbus and engine manufacturers for a historic order of the latest generation aircraft that will power Air India’s medium-and long-term growth.”
It comes two weeks after the merger of Air India and Vistara, a joint venture of Tata Group and Singapore Airlines. After merging, Air India becomes the largest international airline and second largest in the domestic. IndiGo is still the largest domestic airline in the country.
Air India and Vistara (including Air India Express and AirAsia India) holding a fleet of 218 wide body and narrow body aircraft. Air India will be the only Indian carrier group to operate full and budget airline services. Singapore Airlines and Tata aim to complete the merger by Mar. 2024. According to Vistara, Vistara will operate as an independent airline before the merge.
Air India determines to increase its market share to 30% on international and domestic markets over the next five years. The airline currently has a domestic market share of 10% and 12% of the international market.
Set Itself Long-Term Goal
According to local media, Air India Express and AirAsia India will merge and rename in the future, and the low-cost carrier would acquire new 50 Boeing 737 Max. Currently, Air India Express owns a fleet of 24 Boeing 737.
India is the third largest aviation market in the world, but the frail domestic infrastructure, pilot shortage and the tough competition with other airlines could be the major obstacles to the airline.
In addition, Air India committed to providing a comfortable flight to passengers, announcing to refurbish its wide body fleet, including 27 Boeing 787-8 and 13 Boeing 777 aircraft, a makeover that cost over $400 million.