Things move fast around here. In January 2022, Air India was finally handed over to Tata Sons. In March 2022, Airbus brought over their long-range flagship jet, the A350 to India on a demo tour and for demonstration at the Wings India 2022 aviation event. However, their eye was on the prize of Air India, which was recently privatised and might be looking for new jets. In fact, group patriarch Ratan Tata was spotted visiting the aircraft in Mumbai when it stopped by in March 2022.
Air India is gearing up for an A350 induction
The Airbus A350 is a marvellous piece of engineering, and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing it and flying it many times now, including the first flight of the A350-1000. Now, it seems an Indian customer is on the anvil. While there are no official versions of events yet, Air India has floated an internal document checking for interest from various senior cockpit crew about their interest in being trained on the A350 aircraft. This has been directly confirmed by LiveFromALounge with internal sources.
Bloomberg got some more details, and apparently these commanders will be trained on the A350, subject to them agreeing to not switch to any other equipment in the fleet at least for two years. Currently, long-haul operations of Air India are all on the 787 and the 777 aircraft of Boeing, and there is no Airbus wide body aircraft in India at present.
While the size of the fleet is between 20-50 as being reported by different folks, and clearly it can’t be commented upon till a deal is confirmed, but Air India would obviously not move forward with such a poll if there was no interest in inducting the aircraft. Airbus anyways has spare aircraft at the moment, which can’t be delivered to Russian airline Aeroflot or even the ones manufactured for Qatar Airways that they are no longer interested in inducting in their fleet because of ongoing litigation and Qatar’s issues with the aircraft.
There are various A350-900, at least 4 confirmed, not delivered to Aeroflot at the moment and which were recently depreserved. (MSN 493, MSN 471, MSN 463, MSN 457). MSN 554 and MSN 558 did not have their engines attached. For Qatar Airways, A350-1000 aircraft MSN 444, MSN 409 is undergoing test flights right now, while MSN 440, MSN 430, MSN 438 have been sent into storage.
Air India has not bought a single aircraft since 2006 when it had placed orders for purchasing 111 aircraft, 68 from Boeing (including the 787-8) and 43 from Airbus. A big part of the current 787 fleet of the airline is currently grounded with some aircraft being used for parts on other airworthy aircraft.
It has also been reported in the past that Tata Sons honcho N Chandrasekaran has been travelling between the US and France to meet both OEMs to finalise an order for aircraft. Boeing clearly can’t offer the 787 option at the moment given the grounding.
Air India might be moving forward with the induction of the A350 aircraft into its fleet. While a confirmation will only happen when Air India or Airbus make an announcement, this is no longer an imaginary situation, but a real thought inside Air India now.
What do you think of Air India adding the A350 to its fleet?
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