Air India prepares one of the largest aircraft orders in history

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Air India is considering ordering as many as 300 narrowbody jets, according to people familiar with the matter, in what could be one of the largest orders in commercial aviation history as the formerly state-run airline looks to overhaul its fleet under new ownership.

The carrier may order Airbus A320neo family jets or Boeing 737 Max models, or a mix of both, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are confidential. A deal for 300 737 Max-10 jets could be worth $40.5 billion at sticker prices, although discounts are common in such large purchases, Bloomberg reported.

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Losing an order for narrow-body aircraft in India would be a blow to Boeing, as rival Airbus dominates the skies in the country, the world’s fastest-growing aviation market before the Covid pandemic. IndiGo, operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., is the world’s largest customer for the European manufacturer’s best-selling narrowbodies, ordering more than 700, and others including Vistara, Go Airlines India Ltd. and AirAsia India Ltd. fly planes from the same family.

Production and delivery of 300 planes would likely take years or even more than a decade. Airbus builds about 50 narrowbody jets in a month, with plans to increase that to 65 by the middle of 2023, and 75 by 2025.

Tata bought the airline earlier this year in the most high-profile privatization under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is expected to consolidate its aviation businesses, including four airline brands. An order for new planes, especially with favorable terms on long-term maintenance, would help it cut costs and compete better with rivals that offer very cheap fares.

Photo: Laurent Errera/Wikipedia

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