Air India has finalized purchase agreements with Airbus and Boeing for its massive 470-aircraft order, which was announced in February. The agreements, valued at $70 billion based on the list price of the aircraft, were signed during the ongoing Paris Air Show 2023 event.
List of Aircraft in the Order
The firm orders placed by Air India include 34 A350-1000, 6 A350-900, 140 Airbus A320neo and 70 Airbus A321neo from Airbus. It also includes 20 787 Dreamliners, 10 Boeing 777X wide-body aircraft and 190 Boeing 737MAX narrow-body aircraft from Boeing.
When the combined order was announced in February, it became the largest-ever aircraft order in the world. In addition to the firm order of 470 planes, Air India has options to purchase another 370 planes, with 300 from Airbus and 70 from Boeing. However, IndiGo’s recent firm order for 500 Airbus A320neo family aircraft surpassed Air India’s confirmed aircraft numbers. Nonetheless, in terms of value, the Air India order may still be larger than the IndiGo order due to the inclusion of a significant number of wide-body planes, which are generally more expensive than narrow-body aircraft. The IndiGo order is estimated to be worth over $50 billion based on list price assessments.
Aircraft types suited for different operations
Wide-body planes are typically used for long-haul and ultra-long haul non-stop flights, while narrow-body aircraft are primarily deployed for domestic flights and can also serve short- and medium-haul international routes.
Air India stated that the deliveries of the new aircraft will commence later this year, with the majority of the order arriving from mid-2025 onwards. Satair, an Airbus company, and Boeing Global Services will provide Air India with various solutions, including parts, maintenance provisioning, digital applications, and modification services, according to the Tata group airline.
Campbell Wilson, CEO and Managing Director of Air India, expressed pride in the ambitious fleet renewal and expansion program, emphasising that the airline aims to operate the most advanced and fuel-efficient aircraft across its route network within five years. He also highlighted the partnership with various stakeholders in their endeavour to rebuild a global airline that represents India’s growing confidence on the international stage.
The newly ordered aircraft will serve the restructured Air India group. The Tata group is currently in the process of merging its four airlines—Air India, Vistara, Air India Express, and AIX Connect (Air Asia India)—into a full-service carrier and a low-cost carrier. The merged entity of Air India and Vistara will operate as Air India, while the other two airlines will combine to form a no-frills carrier, retaining the Air India Express brand.
Air India Expansion plans since Tata’s takeover
In addition to the 470 planes on order, Air India is also expanding its network through aircraft leasing. The carrier has already started receiving leased aircraft, including 11 Boeing 777 planes and 25 Airbus A320 aircraft.
Since Air India’s return to the Tata Group over a year ago, the new owners have been focused on improving the airline’s offerings and planning extensive expansion. They have devised a five-year roadmap, Vihaan.AI, with the objective of significantly growing the airline’s network and fleet to achieve sustained growth, profitability, and market leadership. The recent aircraft orders are a crucial component of this strategy. Air India is also in the process of refurbishing its existing aircraft and working to return a few grounded planes to service.