The Tata Group’s Air India and American aircraft manufacturer Boeing have celebrated finalising an enormous order for up to 290 jets during a signing ceremony at the Paris Air Show.
The purchase, which was first announced in February, includes 190 737 MAXs, 20 787 Dreamliners and ten 777X jets, with the option to order a further 50 737 MAXs and 20 787 Dreamliners.
As the aircraft manufacturer’s largest order in South Asia, the deal is emblematic of the growing fleet in the region, which is expected to triple over the next 20 years.
Speaking after the agreement was first announced, Air India CEO and managing director Campbell Wilson said: “These new aeroplanes will enable us to dramatically expand our network, both domestically and internationally and will come with a completely new, world-class onboard product enabling passengers to travel in the highest levels of comfort and safety.”
Alongside the large order, Air India’s agreement will also include the use of Boeing’s Global Services, including parts provisioning, training programmes and modification services.
Wilson added: “As we plan for transformative growth in the years ahead, the services provided by Boeing will be an essential part of our efforts to improve reliability, on-time performance and customer satisfaction.”
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The Boeing order was part of a $70bn investment earlier this year when the company alike ordered 250 aircraft from Boeing’s rival Airbus, including 140 A320neo jets, 70 A321neo aircraft and 34 of the A350-1000 model.
That investment followed the announcement of the company’s Vihaan.AI transformation plan in September 2022, which outlined objectives over a five-year period to establish Air India as a “world-class global airline”.
The plan focuses on five key pillars: customer service, robust operations, industry-best talent, industry leadership and commercial efficiency.
It will also include expanding the airline’s international presence, as well as reaching the goal of Air India having a 30% share of the domestic market.
Air India is not the only Indian airline taking advantage of the international air show to significantly grow its presence in the aviation industry as low-cost airline Indigo signed an agreement with Airbus to purchase a record 500 A320 jets, the largest single order in commercial aviation history.
The background behind the two airlines’ ambitious expansion plans can be better understood amidst the wider investments currently taking place in India as the country seeks to boost its aviation sector.
Plans announced in March revealed that the Indian government was looking to spend $12bn (Rs. 980bn) on improving regional connectivity in the country, which has recently overtaken China to become the most populous in the world.
That investment will include building new airports such as continuing work on the Noida/Jewar International Airport, increasing the number of local regulators and air traffic controllers and creating new flying schools.