Air India’s Airbus A350 Interest Could Become Reality


Air India is likely to be Airbus’ first major widebody customer in India, with a big A350 deal reportedly in the pipeline. The Tata-owned carrier is wasting no time in reorganizing its fleet and management, not even a year into its journey as a private carrier.

Timely order

Air India is looking to expand its widebody fleet with several Airbus A350 aircraft as early as the first quarter of 2023. According to people familiar with the matter, Air India is looking to order around 20 A350s worth more than $6 billion based on list prices. But the actual price is likely to be less due to industry discounts given on big orders like these.


While airlines usually join a queue for delivery slots for popular airplanes, Air India seems to have gotten lucky with its timing. Reportedly, AI’s new A350s will likely come from the several undelivered planes for the Russian carrier Aeroflot due to the sanctions issued earlier this year.

A bulk of AI’s new A350s are expected to come from the undelivered planes for Aeroflot. Photo: Airbus

Some could also come from Qatar Airways planes, which the airline is not taking due to the very public conflict over paint issues. Simple Flying explored this possibility in detail last month.

This may not be the airline’s only order with Airbus, as Business Standard reports that talks are ongoing about a 100+ order for the single-aisle A321neo aircraft for the carrier’s domestic fleet development.

Pilots notified

Air India has already notified its senior pilots about the development and is asking for their response on whether they’d like to train for the new aircraft. They have until June 20th to reply, and those who accept will be ineligible for training on another aircraft type for two years. The Business Standard reviewed the memo sent to the pilots, which said,

“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.”

The airline has notified its senior pilots about the development. Photo: Airbus

The airline already operates a fleet of A320 family of aircraft and is likely to train some of those pilots for the A350, given the cockpit commonality of the airplanes.

The Tatas are wasting no time in finalizing the deal, as some of its top executives, including Chief Financial Officer Saurabh Agrawal and Air India’s Chief Commercial officer Nipun Aggarwal, are in Hamburg discussing the seat layouts and interiors of the jets.

Airbus’ India hustle

While it was expected that AI would likely add more aircraft following its privatization, Airbus’ candidature gathered momentum only in the previous few months following its A350 display tour in the Indian subcontinent.

The European planemaker has pretty much dominated the narrowbody market in India, but it could never establish a prominent presence in the widebody segment in the country. Airbus has also predicted that India will need more than 2,200 airplanes by 2040, of which more than 400 will be widebody airplanes.

The A350s will have a better range than AI’s existing Boeing 787-8 airplanes. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The aircraft manufacturer seems to have also taken advantage of the current widebody gap in Air India’s fleet, which is looking for more fuel-efficient airplanes to fly to the US. It currently flies Boeing 777s to the US, which consume more fuel compared to the newer generation twin-engine jets. AI’s Boeing 787-8s, although more economical, do not have the range to fly non-stop to the US.

But a future deal with Boeing is not entirely off the table either, as the carrier has been in talks with both airplane manufacturers and could eventually also go for the 787-9s in the future.

What do you make of these developments in Air India? Please let us know in the comment section below.

Source: Business Standard


Source link