Eastern Eye (UK)

Modi and Sunak hail historic Air India aircraft deal


AIR INDIA unveiled deals on Tuesday (14) for a record 470 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, accelerati­ng the rebirth of a national emblem under new owners Tata Group.

The provisiona­l deals include 220 planes from Boeing and 250 from Airbus and eclipse previous records for a single airline, as Air India vies with domestic giant IndiGo to serve what will soon be the world’s largest population.

US president Joe Biden called the agreement “historic”.

The Airbus order includes 210 A320neo narrowbody planes and 40 A350 widebody aircraft, which Air India will use to fly “ultralong routes”, Tata chairman N Chandrasek­aran said.

Boeing will supply 190 737 MAX, 20 of its 787 Dreamliner­s and 10 mini-jumbo 777X.

Together with another 25 Airbus jets to be leased to meet immediate needs, the overall acquisitio­n reaches 495 jets, an Airbus executive said.

The deal includes a major commercial win for engine maker CFM Internatio­nal, a joint venture between General Electric and France’s Safran. It has been selected to power 210 Airbus narrowbody jets ahead of rival Pratt & Whitney, while bigger planes will be powered by GE or Britain’s Rolls-Royce.

British prime minister Rishi Sunak said the deal between Air India, Airbus and Rolls-Royce would create new jobs.

Air India’s new CEO Campbell Wilson is working to revive its reputation as a world-class airline and shake off its image as a tardy, run-down operation with an ageing fleet and poor service.

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron hailed the political and economic importance of the Air India agreement.

“This important deal shows, along with the deepening of relations between India and France, the successes and aspiration­s of the civil aviation sector in India,” Modi said.

GLOBAL GOAL: Air India is looking for a return to its glory days

“This achievemen­t shows that Airbus and all its French partners are fully dedicated to develop new areas of dedication with India,” Macron said during a video presentati­on.

The aviation deal is expected to have industrial spin-offs, with

Macron pledging France will work with India in other sectors.

The record order aims to put Air India in the league of large global airlines and make it an influentia­l customer at a time when its home market is seeing a postCovid travel surge.

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