Air India’s historic deal could swell to 840 jets with 370 options

India’s flag carrier and the latest addition to Tata Group’s aviation portfolio, Air India is only a step away from making aviation history, with a potential deal set to nearly double its recently announced mammoth order of 470 aircraft from leading manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing.

Record-breaking order

One of Boeing’s assembly plants

If finalised, the new deal will bring Air India’s total orders to 840 aircraft, marking the biggest aircraft order in the history of aviation, in a bold endeavour to arise from years of financial adversities, mismanagement, and lack of investments, as well as rival regional and international industry majors.

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On Tuesday, the formerly state-run airline announced a record-breaking order for 470 aircraft valued at $70 billion set to be delivered over the upcoming eight years.

“The order comprises 470 firm aircraft, 370 options, and purchase rights to be procured from Airbus and Boeing over the next decade,” Air India’s Chief Commercial and Transformation officer, Nipun Aggarwal said, according to local media outlet the Times of India.

Aggarwal further stressed that the mega deal marks a landmark moment in the history of Air India and Indian aviation, adding that the order of 840 aircraft has been a “culmination of a fascinating journey that began two years ago with Air India’s privatisation process.”

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Extended impact

The airline has also inked long-term agreements with CFM International, Rolls-Royce, and GE Aerospace for the maintenance of the new fleet’s engines.

On his part, the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak said that the deal will support thousands more jobs for the UK’s aerospace sector which as of 2021 employs over 111,000 people, revealing that the aircraft wings will be manufactured in the UK by Airbus and that the A350 aircraft will be exclusively powered by Rolls-Royce XWB engines, designed and assembled in the UK.

Air India was founded in 1932 by Tata Group under the name “TATA Airlines” before it was nationalised in 1953 by the Indian state. The group regained full ownership of the Mumbai-headquartered carrier in early 2022.

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Wole Shadare