Home/ News / India/  Air India to buy new planes to regain int'l passenger market share under the Tatas: Airbus CCO

The Tata Group-owned Air India will invest in new airplanes to regain international passenger market share, the Chief Commercial Officer of Airbus said on Sunday, adding that the airline is reorganising itself under the "able stewardship" of the Tatas.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) held in Doha, Christian Scherer was asked whether Air India had finalised the A350 aircraft order with Airbus.

"I will not comment on that," Scherer said.

His comments came after it was recently reported that Air India has decided to procure its maiden batch of wide-bodied A350 aircraft from Airbus and the first plane is likely to be delivered to the airline by March next year.

However, it was not immediately clear how many A350 aircraft will be purchased by the Tata Group-owned airline.

"Air India is clearly reorganising itself under the very able stewardship of the Tatas and as such, it is very natural that they contemplate an investment in new fleets, new airplanes, if only to regain more sovereignty, more market share, for an Indian carrier in the international market," the Chief Commercial Officer of the European Aerospace company said.

Boeing and Airbus SE are in talks with the new owners of Air India about an order for a raft of new planes.

Tata Sons Pvt, which acquired the debt-laden airline from the government, has begun talks with the planemakers and lessors for jets including Airbus A350-900s and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

Air India has not bought a single aircraft since 2006 when it had placed orders for purchasing 111 aircraft - 68 from the US-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing and 43 from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

Modernising Air India's fleet is crucial for the Tata Group, which on 27 January won control of the struggling carrier after a competitive bidding process in October 2021.

A wide-bodied plane like Airbus A350 has a bigger fuel tank that allows it to travel longer distances such as India-US routes.

The airline, once known for its premium services and advertisements that featured Bollywood stars, has lucrative landing and parking slots at almost all major airports around the world. But it faces stiff competition from foreign airlines with non-stop services to India, as well as carriers operating from hubs in the Middle East.

Reports said that Air India had started asking its senior pilots if they will be interested in getting the "conversion training" to operate A350 aircraft.

Air India's pilots are trained to operate the wide-bodied aircraft of Boeing. Therefore, they have to undergo "conversion training" to operate the A350 aircraft of Airbus.

"In terms of fleet, we know we have work to do," Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata Group, told Air India employees earlier this month at an internal company briefing, according to a video reviewed by Bloomberg.

"We will address it with utmost urgency. We'll upgrade our fleet, we'll bring modernity in our fleet, we'll bring a new fleet."

Air India will increase the number of aircraft it has -- both wide-body and narrow-body -- and will move to do that with speed in the coming months, Mr Chandrasekaran told staff. Air India's average fleet age is more than 10 years.

As per Air India's website, the airline has a total of 49 wide-bodied aircraft - 18 Boeing B777, 4 Boeing B747 and 27 Boeing B787 - in its fleet. The carrier has 79 narrow-bodied planes in its fleet too.

Since April, the airline's chairman - who also is the chairman of the Tata Group - has rejigged the top management of the airline, bringing in senior and middle-level executives who have worked in other companies of the Tata Group such as Tata Steel and Vistara.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Updated: 19 Jun 2022, 06:29 PM IST
Recommended For You
Get alerts on WhatsApp
Set Preferences My Reads Watchlist Feedback Redeem a Gift Card Logout