Air India, privatised earlier in January 2022 and finally got a CEO on board in Campbell Wilson, made some big moves earlier this year concerning adding aircraft to the fleet it already operates. Previously, they had announced that they would add 30 jets in the short term, including five wide-body jets. Out of this, they have received their first 777LR already. They have announced that they will add another six widebody aircraft in the coming months. Apart from this, Air India also has committed significant monetary resources to fix the 777/787s they inherited as a part of the Air India privatisation deal.
Air India on track to order 500 aircraft.
Earlier this year, when Airbus brought their A350 test aircraft to India on a demo tour, expectations were high about the order for A350 aircraft at Air India. However, incoming CEO Campbell Wilson took his time, and now, a much bigger order seems to be on the anvil.
Reuters has reported that Air India is close to announcing an order of 500 new aircraft, which could be finalised in the coming days. The order could be across both OEMs, Airbus and Boeing, and could include about 400 narrow-body jets and 100 or so widebody aircraft. The report states that the order could also have A350s, Boeing 787 and Boeing 777 aircraft.
And while the ordering entity seems to be Air India, we should remember to refer to it as the Air India group here on, given Air India will merge Vistara with itself in the coming months, and Air India Express will merge AirAsia India with itself. So, the order could be a group-wide order of Air India and Air India Express, including the entities onboarded from the existing joint ventures. Also, the 500 number would include the options, which can be confirmed later.
As a part of the order, Air India is keen to sign up for up to 150 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, as first reported by The Economic Times. This would include 50 white-tail 737 MAX aircraft, which Boeing had originally manufactured for China Southern; however, they have been unable to deliver them. Boeing has promised an immediate delivery of these jets to Air India (just like Akasa is getting their first 20 737 MAX aircraft within a year). These aircraft could also be intended for Air India Express since the airline already operates 737 aircraft.
Air India operates A320neo/A321 aircraft. However, the availability of these aircraft slots is minimal until 2028, given Airbus is sold out for the next six years on their narrow-body airliner. Add to it the current supply chain issues, and there could be further delays in clearing these orders. Boeing could be getting the upper hand to enter Air India because of these factors.
Eventually, it will be a multi-billion dollar order and perhaps edge past the 460 aircraft order that American Airlines made in 2011 (which was again split between Airbus and Boeing).
Ultimately, Air India (Group), with this order, would be setting itself up for a 5-7 year delivery timeline, and a lot of these aircraft would be used for replacement as well rather than just growth (such as the older 737 aircraft of Air India Express). Also, suppose the announcement matches the intent. In that case, middle-east airlines might have something to watch their back for, given that Air India could be in a position to take back some of the traffic India has lost to the ME3 over the years for flights to North America.
Air India is nearing an announcement of an order which will include 400 narrow-body jets and over 100 widebody aircraft for the airline in the coming days. These aircraft will be ordered in a combination from both Airbus and Boeing in the coming days.
What do you think will be the eventual order for Airbus and Boeing in this upcoming mega order of Air India?
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Air India needs to focus on 2 strategies:
1) To bring travellers into India, and onto domestic flights. This one is a challenge as the current process is painful. You currently have to clear immigration and customs before catching your domestic flight.
2) international to international transit. Much easier, and with an upgraded fleet and onboard product, there is potential to compete against the ME and other transit carriers. Whether you choose a 1 stop service via India, or China or anywhere else makes no difference if service wise and ease of transfers is on a level playing field.
@Dev, first is not happening in the next decade or two I believe. Also, it is a government area, not an airline one. All nations need you to complete “immigration/passport control” before catching a domestic flight. So, I don’t see a reason for that to change. Happy to hear your thoughts.
The second one, I guess, will ease out with new airports at Mumbai and Delhi coming up, and AI being able to sell tickets which have a transit in a major Indian airport.
I agree that point 1 is under government control, but with the new Mumbai/Delhi/Bangalore airporrs, there has to be collaboration between government and airlines to make it more seem less.
That would be a game changer because many people fly into their destination airport directly via the ME, SQ, etc.
E-gates and some sort of electronic customs process (similar to Shannon on the BAby bus where photos of luggage are shown rather than having to pick up bags). I mean India is the land of IT solutions, and maybe some of those who got their marching orders from Meta, Twitter, etc can be put to use within India.
I just think there is an opportunity for Government and airlines (not just AI) to work together for an improved proposition for international to domestic transit passengers.