⦁ Air India’s historic order for 470 aircraft — 400 single aisles and 70 wide bodies — has turned out to be an even bigger blockbuster at 840 planes.
⦁ And with a fleet as large as this, “connect India nonstop to every major city in the world” in a major challenge to foreign airlines who have for decades flown people between India and the rest of the world through their hubs abroad.
⦁ “The order comprises 470 firm aircraft (and) 370 options and purchase rights to be procured from Airbus and Boeing over thenext decade. ”
⦁ An ‘option’, given when placing a ‘firm’ order for aircraft, allows an airline to purchase additional aircraft in the future at an agreed price and date.
⦁ The next humongous order —estimated at around 500 aircraft — is anticipated from IndiGo, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has forecast, adding that in the next 24 months domestic carriers, apart from Air India, are expected to place orders for 1,000 to 1,200 aircraft.
⦁ At present, all Indian carriers together operate only about 700 planes, but almost every Indian airline is expected to order more aircraft in the near future, the report titled ‘India: The next growth engine of global aviation’ says.
⦁ The total figure of 840 factors in the need to phase out AI’s existing fleet of about 113 aircraft whose poor interiors have, over the years, been a major pain point for passengers.
⦁ In its last years as a state owned airline, AI suffered from any lack of investment on upkeep of cabin interiors, and given global supply chain issues, refurbishing them is not proving to be easy or fast.
⦁ The ‘firm’ order for 470 planes will also be deliveredin the next 7-8 years.
⦁ By the time a sizeable number of them join the fleet, AI can retire its older planes when it will be time to convert the ‘options’ into ‘firm’ order to ensure that the fleet size not just remains stable but also grows.
⦁ It is indeed a landmark moment in the history of Air India and Indian aviation.
⦁ This order of 840 aircrafts has been a culmination of a fascinating journey that began almost two years ago starting with the Air India privatisation process.
⦁ This order demonstrates the vision and aspiration of Tata Group to transform Air India into a world class airline and connect India nonstop to every major city in the world.
⦁ This order is also a testament to the tremendous economic potential unleashed by the Air India privatisation.
⦁ The latest international air traffic data issued by DGCA is for July-September 2022 when Indian carriers accounted for 43.8% of the 1.3 crore people who flew in and out of the country.
⦁ In the last pre-Covid quarter of October-December 2019, Indian carriers had accounted for 39.2% of the 1.6 crore international flyers.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB