Air India is undecided between Airbus and Boeing offerings.

Air India Puts in Huge Narrowbody Order

Air India might be putting in one of the largest aeroplane orders in history, an anonymous source from the company reports. The formerly state-owned airline is looking to buy up to 300 narrowbody jets as part of the Tata Group’s plans to rejuvenate the firm.

Air India Airbus A320neo taking off
Air India A320neo taking off | © Airbus / P. Pigeyre

The source, who preferred to remain unnamed due to the confidentiality of the matter, told Bloomberg news that the carrier was eyeing up both Airbus and Boeing offerings. Planes from the Airbus A320neo family and from Boeing’s 737 Max range are both being considered, and the airline may opt for a mix of the two.

A large order of 737s would be a boon for American manufacturer Boeing, as Airbus currently dominates the narrowbody market in India. Planes from the A320 family account for 70% of all commercial aircraft on the subcontinent, whereas the 737 makes up less than 15%. India is the world’s largest customer of the A320, with IndiGo alone ordering more than 700 jets.

The Practicalities

An order of 300 planes will take many years to complete, possibly decades. Airbus builds roughly 50 planes a month but plans to increase this figure to 75 by 2025. Boeing builds 26 of its 737s a month but hopes to increase this to 31 before the end of June.

A Boeing 737 operated by Air India Express
A 737 operated by Air India Express | © Infinite Flight Community

In addition to the 300 narrowbodies, the Tata Group is close to clinching a deal with Airbus for 50 A350-900 aircraft. Air India sent a message to its pilots earlier this month, asking them to volunteer for A350 training:

“Air India is in the process of augmenting its existing fleet with the A350 type of aircraft with the Entry into Service. You are requested to give your acceptance of your willingness to be taken up for Conversion training on the A350 aircraft,”

It would only take around six months for Air India’s pilots to be trained for the A350, as the aircraft shares a similar cockpit design with the A320. Industry sources say the airline could be operating the new aircraft as early as the first half of 2023.

Follow Travel Radar for more news on Air India’s transformation plans under the Tata’s, and check out some of our previous articles.

Do you think AI will go for the A320, the B737, or a mix of both? Let us know in the comments below!

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