Air India makes excellent purchases from Airbus and Boeing

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Air India has agreed to buy 470 planes from manufacturing rivals Airbus and Boeing, the largest order of new passenger aircraft in history, as it promises the rapid expansion of air travel in Asia.

The airline, owned by Indian conglomerate Tata Sons, will buy 250 planes from European aviation champion Airbus and 220 from US rival Boeing, its chairman announced on Tuesday.

Airbus will deliver 210 of its narrow-body A320 family, and 40 of its wide-body A350 aircraft, which are generally used on longer routes. Boeing will deliver 190 of its 737 Max narrow-body jets, plus 20 of its 787 Dreamliner and 10 777 wide-body planes.

Airlines around the world suffered heavy losses during pandemic lockdowns, but demand for air travel has increased as travel restrictions eased. Airline passenger numbers in Asia are expected to rise sharply in the coming years as countries become wealthier, although the increased traffic is expected to push up global aviation carbon emissions.

The Air India deals – collectively billed as the biggest in civil aviation history – are part of a turnaround plan by Tata, the owner of UK car maker Jaguar Land Rover and Tetley tea, after it took control of the airline struggling in 2022. .

The carrier was founded in 1932 as Tata Airlines, before being nationalized in 1953. However, in recent years it has experienced financial difficulties.

The deals were arranged with the support of the highest political levels. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron joined in a video announcement with Tata family member Ratan Tata, Tata chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran and Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury. The president of the United States, Joe Biden praised the Boeing order on Tuesday.

The deal beat a 2017 order from Indian rival IndiGo for 420 planes, and an order from American Airlines for 460 planes in 2011. At list prices the Air India order would be worth billions of pounds, although the airline would also benefit from a sharp . Discounts are usually available for very large orders. The actual prices that airlines pay are a closely guarded secret.

The UK government was involved in the talks with Airbus, although they were several months ago. Rishi Sunak welcomed the Airbus deal, which the company said was worth “billions of pounds” to the British economy.

All Airbus aircraft wings will be produced at Broughton, north Wales, and Rolls-Royce in Derby will manufacture the Trent XWB engines for the A350 wide-body aircraft manufactured. It is thought that around half the value of the A350 will be produced in the UK.

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