Air India rejigs its orders for Airbus A350 and A320 family aircraft

Earlier this year, Air India confirmed an order for 470 jets with Airbus and Boeing. As a part of the Airbus share of these aircraft, there were 210 A320family aircraft on order (70 A321s and 140 A320s), 6 A350-900s and 34 A350-1000 aircraft. Airbus would deliver six A350-900 aircraft, initially designated for Aeroflot, to Air India along with the original product selected. Air India will also receive 34 A350-1000 aircraft. However, those will be factory-fresh and manufactured to Air India’s specifications. Air India is the first and only customer of the A350 widebody in India.

an airplane on the runway

Air India’s first A350-900 aircraft being prepared for delivery in Toulouse. Picture Credit: Nuno Seletti (@NunoSeletti on Twitter)

Air India tinkers around with their order book with Airbus.

As is standard with such large orders, airline customers get leeway in tinkering around with their orders to a certain extent. After all, nothing is cast in stone, with the OEMs frequently running delayed on order deliveries (due to supply chain shortages these days) and customers changing their minds (network planning changes, strategy changes), amongst other stuff.

Air India has tinkered with its narrowbody order, changing the split of 70 A321neos and 140 A320neos to 140 A321neos and 70 A320neos. This is also a move that the competitor IndiGo is making, although in a more creeping fashion and not quickly. The 321neos can offer about 25% more passenger capacity (in an all-economy configuration), making more money for the airline in a slot-constrained environment. Additionally, with narrowbodies becoming a preferred deployment on regional routes (for frequency and operations between domestic/international), it will allow Air India to move routes from the A320 to A321 before they think of a widebody.

Plus, it seems that Airbus put together delivery slots that Air India was happy with to switch from A320neos to A321neos. Remember, Airbus narrowbody inventory is sold out through 2029/2030, so most new orders are being placed for the next decade, and slots are hotly contested and prized commodities. Airbus assembles the A320 family aircraft in Toulouse (France), Hamburg (Germany), Mobile, Alabama (US), and Tianjin (China). It currently assembles 55 of these a month and intends to scale up to produce 75 of the A320family aircraft per month by 2026. So much is the demand that some customers are now receiving aircraft deliveries from Tianjin as well, a facility kept exclusive to Chinese deliveries until not so long ago.

On the widebody front, Air India has downsized some of its orders. The initial Air India order was for 6 A350-900 aircraft, which all come as not-taken-up units with Air India ordering 34 factory-fresh units, but today the equation has changed. The new order split looks at 20 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000 aircraft. Now, it might just have been a thought process inside from a network planning perspective, or AI realised that their 6-aircraft fleet would be sub-scale, or maybe they ordered too many A350-1000s (while also ordering the 777X).


Air India, which had 70 A321neos on order earlier, has increased these to 140 A321neos. On the other hand, they have changed their order for 140 A320neos to make them 70 A320neos. On the A350 front, the airline has moved 14 of its A350-1000 orders to the A350-900 variant, thus providing an equal split of 20 each between their A350-900 and -1000 variant fleet. Now we just have to wait and see if any tinkering happened with the Air India Boeing order book as well or not.

What do you make of these changes in the Air India order book?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. AIR INDIA SHOULD HAVE ORDERED 100 A350 – 900 , 100 A350 – 1000 , 100 A321 NEO , 100 A321 XLR , 100 777X , 100 787 – 9 . AIR INDIA SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT ALL AERO FLOATS ALL NEW PLANES INSTEAD OF SOME .

    • If there are no slots what would they do with the aircraft, put them in hangers. Every airline is struggling for airport and air slots.

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