Air India will buy 250 planes from Airbus in one of India’s biggest aviation orders in recent years.
The historic deal for 40 long-distance wide-body and 210 narrow-body planes is part of an overhaul by owner Tata Sons of the recently privatised carrier and underlines the speed and scale at which India’s air passenger market is growing.
Tata Sons chair Natarajan Chandrasekaran announced the purchase on Tuesday at a virtual event attended by India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, French president Emmanuel Macron and Tata patriarch Ratan Tata.
The family conglomerate bought Air India from the government last year, returning the airline to its original owners. The airline had been nationalised in 1953. Tata has promised to modernise the once glamorous carrier, whose reputation frayed as its finances deteriorated.
“Air India is not yet another project,” said Chandrasekaran, adding that it was akin to a “national” project. “A lot of emotions are involved in this project, there are huge expectations.”
He said Air India had options to “increase the fleet size” as the carrier grew.
Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury hailed the deal as “historic”, and said the A-350 and A-320 Neo planes had been chosen “to script Air India’s revival”.
“The time is right for India to turn into an international hub,” he added.