Air India is close to placing landmark orders for as many as 500 jetliners worth tens of billions of dollars from Airbus and Boeing as it carves out an ambitious renaissance under the Tata Group conglomerate, industry sources said on Sunday. The orders include as many as 400 narrow-body jets and 100 or more wide-bodies, including dozens of Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s and 777s, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity as finishing touches are placed on the mammoth deal in coming days.
Such a deal could top $100 billion at list prices, including any options, and rank among the biggest by a single airline in volume terms, overshadowing a combined order for 460 Airbus and Boeing jets from American Airlines over a decade ago. The jets are expected to be delivered over at least a decade. The 500 aircraft would replace and expand fleets in the world’s fastest-growing airline market while contributing to India’s goal of expanding the economy to $5 trillion. Even after significant expected discounts, the deal would be worth tens of billions of dollars and cap a volatile year for an industry whose jets are back in demand after the pandemic but is facing mounting industrial and environmental pressures.
Airbus and Boeing declined to comment. Tata Group-owned Air India did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The potential order comes days after Tata announced the merger of Air India with Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines, to create a bigger full-service carrier and strengthen its presence in domestic and international skies.
That deal gives Tata a fleet of 218 aircraft, cementing Air India as the country’s largest international carrier and second largest in the domestic market after leader IndiGo Air India, with its maharajah mascot, was once known for its lavishly decorated planes and stellar service. Still, its reputation declined in the mid-2000s as financial troubles mounted. The planned order reflects a deliberate strategy to win back a substantial share of traffic flows to and from India, currently dominated by foreign carriers such as Emirates.