Air India’s $68bn Deal with Boeing and Airbus for New 470 Aircraft to Offer Worldclass Experience, Expand Network

Travelers’ grievances over outdated cabins on some Air India planes deployed for long-haul flights will be a thing of the past, as the Tata-owned airline has inked “a historic agreement” with Airbus and Boeing for delivery of 470 aircraft in total. Air India’s deal with Boeing and Airbus is a significant stride towards modernizing the fleet, expanding the global network, offering a superlative inflight experience to travelers, and establishing the airline as a world-class brand in aviation as part of the 5-year transformation plan – Vihaan.AI.

Air India – India’s leading airline group – has signed a letter of intent with Boeing for a US$34-billion purchase of 220 planes comprising 30 widebody aircraft (20 B787-9, 10 B777-9) and 190 B737 MAX single-aisle aircraft. The Tata AI-Boeing deal does also have the option to make an additional purchase of 20 B787s and 50 B737 MAX – which will catapult the total order value to a whopping USD 45.9 billion.

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Elated at Boeing’s second biggest order in number of planes, President Joe Biden said that the deal would support nearly 1.5 million jobs, direct and indirect, across the United States. He went on to say that the Boeing-Air India deal would be a catalyst in strengthening the US-India economic partnership. “Together with Prime Minister Modi, I look forward to deepening our partnership even further……creating a more secure and prosperous future for all of our citizens,” the White House briefing quoted President Biden.

“The Tata-Boeing deal is indicative of Air India’s potential penetration of the US market for more nonstop flights to and from India. Currently, New York, Newark, Chicago, San Francisco, and D.C. are the only Air India destinations in the US. The Indian community of Atlanta, Michigan, Houston, Dallas, and Seattle has been looking forward to traveling to their home country without international transit for years. May this deal be the seeding of their hopes for direct connectivity to India given Air India’s plans for grabbing a larger pie of international markets, said Sourav Agarwal, the Editor of Travel Beats.

The agreement with Boeing was followed by the announcement of Air India’s  mega deal with Airbus for delivery of 250 aircraft comprising 40 A350s and 210 A320/321 Neos. Powered by Rolls-Royce engines, wide-body A350s of two variants, 900 and 1000 – the first in Indian aviation – will be inducted into Air India’s fleet for intercontinental flights. The A350-1000’s range and passenger load capacity are more than the A350-900’s. An A350-900 can carry a passenger load of 300 to 350 over 15,000 kilometres, whereas an A350-1000 can fly 350 to 410 passengers over a maximum distance of 16,100 km. Currently, Singapore Airlines has the biggest fleet of A350s.

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The maiden fleet of 34 Airbus 350-1000 seems to be Air India’s answer to Emirates Airlines’ A380s which fly to Mumbai and Bangalore in India. Six A350-900s will join Air India’s fleet late in 2023, and 34 A350-1000s will make inroads into the Indian market in 2025. Though A380s have more spacious cabins, more business class seats and more passenger load capacity than A350s, the latter offers better fuel efficiency and a longer range than the former. Apparently, which brand new aircraft – Boeing or Airbus – Air India will be anchoring its upcoming premium economy cabin on is under wraps.

Air India’s SFO to Mumbai flights and SFO to BLR service have already seen an upgrade to inflight experience, from menu to seats to other amenities, as two of the five Boeing 777-200LRs leased from Delta have been deployed for those US-India operations. Equipped with the award-winning Delta One Suite (Business Class) and Premium Select (Premium Economy), the B777-200LRs are in use for Air India’s nonstop flights from SFO to Bangalore and Mumbai, without changes to the original cabin interiors and seat configuration. However, Air India is selling ‘Premium Select’ seats on the leased aircraft without the ‘premium economy’ tag and perks like priority boarding.

As an air-ticketing partner of Air India, we are proud of this watershed moment in global aviation. The game-changing deal has not only ushered in the renaissance of Air India, but also rekindled our customers’ hopes for a better flying experience with the home-grown airline. Indian Eagle that books cheap Air India flight tickets to/from India is looking forward to the day our partner airline’s expanded and upgraded fleet will rule the skies.

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