Air India is considering a massive Airbus order, according to reports emerging from the Wings India 2022 air show.

Comments made by Chris Davie, a senior Rolls Royce executive, suggest the airline is considering an order of up to 30 wide-body aircraft from the European manufacturer.

The aircraft type in question is thought to be the A350, for which Rolls Royce manufactures the engines.

“I think they are looking at something up to 30 aircraft, could be as big as that, which is a big order – a really big order.”

With a unit price upwards of $300 million, a 30-unit order could be worth over a whopping $9 billion for Airbus.

Airline’s long-haul services dominated by Boeing

The suggestion of a long-range aircraft order with Airbus has come as something of a surprise to onlookers, as Boeing currently dominates Air India’s long-haul fleet. The Indian flag carrier operates 27 787s, 16 777s and four 747s.

However, while Boeing prevails among the long-haul routes, the carrier’s short-haul services are operated predominantly by A320s.

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Air India’s long-haul fleet is currently dominated by the 787-8 | © André Dupont

Despite 747s being on average 25+ years old, Air India confirmed last year that their retirement is not planned for the near future.

Nevertheless, the airline makes no secret of the fact it is working on fleet modernisation. Parent company Tata has been engaged with both Boeing and Airbus to discuss new orders and has stressed that sustainability is a top priority.

Boeing forecasts massive growth in India

The A350 has been on tour in South Asia over the past month, eyeing up local airlines keen to expand their long-range capabilities.

The rumours of an Airbus order are unlikely to go down well at Boeing. The US manufacturer predicted earlier this week that India would lead South Asian air traffic growth, growing nearly 7% annually for the next 20 years. They are unlikely to want to ease off from such a lucrative market.

Financial woes plagued Air India for years before its acquisition by Tata, and so its corporate trajectory will be of paramount importance in the coming years.

Will Air India follow through with its reported Airbus order? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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