The Tata group-owned Air India has placed the largest-ever aircraft order in global aviation history with letters of intent signed for the purchase of 470 aircraft, a mix of narrow-body and wide-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The aggregate purchase value at list prices for the 470 firm order, 160 options and 210 purchase rights for aircraft is around $115 billion.
The order comprises 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777-9s widebody aircraft, which will be deployed on international long-haul routes and then, 210 Airbus A320/321 neos, 190 Boeing 737 MAX narrow body aircraft that will largely operate the domestic routes.
The firm part of the order alone is not just the largest order ever made by an Indian airline, it is one of the largest single aircraft orders by any airline, anywhere, ever, and testifies to India’s unique combination of extraordinary scale and growth opportunity,” said Air India CEO Campbell Wilson, an internal letter sent to the airline employees. In addition to the 470 aircraft on firm order, Air India has secured a number of options and purchase rights for more. A statement issued by the White House said that the 220 firm order for Boeing aircraft was valued at $34 billion at list price. “The (Air India) purchase also includes customer options for an additional 50 Boeing 737 Maxs and 20 Boeing 787s, totaling 290 airplanes for a total of $45.9 billion list price,” the statement said. Wilson said: “The first aircraft to arrive will be 25 Boeing B737 MAXs and 6 Airbus A350-900s in the second half of 2023, with deliveries really ramping up in 2025 and beyond.”
Tata group chairman N Chandrasekaran, in his online speech—made in the virtual presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron—said: “One of our ambitions for this country is to bring in commercial aircraft manufacturing at some time in the future.”
While Air India’s Airbus aircraft will be assembled in UK and Germany, some of its spare parts will be manufactured in Airbus’s engineering center in Bengaluru. Later in the day, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed the “landmark deal between Air India, Airbus and Rolls-Royce”. The A350 aircraft, powered by Rolls-Royce engines, are assembled and tested in Derby.
Modi in his speech said in the near future India will become the third-largest market in the world in the aviation sector. “According to several estimates, India will need over 2,000 aircraft in the next 15 years. Under `Make in India’, several new opportunities are emerging in the field of aerospace manufacturing,” he said. Macron said: “This achievement shows that Airbus and all its French partners including Safran are fully dedicated to developing new areas of cooperation with India.”