Air India Is Eyeing Up To 30 New Widebody Jets

At the Wings India 2022 Air Show this week, Rolls-Royce shared that Air India is eyeing up as many as 30 widebodies. With Rolls-Royce supplying engines for the Airbus A350, a 30-unit order for the type would be worth $ 4.5- $ 9.5 billion.

Mulling over options

While Air India’s narrowbody fleet is dominated by the Airbus A320 family of aircraft, Boeing currently dominates Air India’s long-haul fleet. According to ch-aviation, the airline holds four 747-400s, three 777-200LRs, 13 777-300ERs, and 27 787-8s. Even though 747s have an average age of 26, the other widebodies bring the long-haul fleet’s age down considerably. Notably, the Dreamliners are just seven years old.

The 747s haven’t hit the air since February 2020. However, Air India just last year confirmed that it doesn’t have immediate plans to remove the jumbos from its holdings.

Nonetheless, a fleet renewal is still on the cards. Air India and its new parent Tata have been busy talking with both Airbus and Boeing for additional efficient units to join the operator. Overall, fleet modernization is a top priority for Tata’s leadership

Air India Boeing 787-8

It’s a new era for Air India. Photo: Getty Images

Airbus’ offering

Incidentally, the Airbus A350 has been touring South Asia this month in an effort to sway local carriers to opt for the widebody on long-distance missions. It’s been hopping to the likes of Dhaka, Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad.

According to Bloomberg, Chris Davie, Senior Vice President Customers – Asia Pacific, Rolls-Royce, shared the following about Air India’s widebody ambitions:

“I think they are looking at something up to 30 aircraft, could be as big as that, which is a big order. A really big order. “

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Along with Air India, Tata’s other airline, Vistara, also holds the 787 Dreamliner. Yet, Airbus is convinced that its product will play a strategic role in helping transform India’s commercial market in this next chapter of international travel. Air India would use the incoming widebodies on long-haul missions to North America, Europe, alongside trips across Asia. There are plenty of prospects to be had with the A350-900 holding a range of 15,000 km / 8,100 NM. Moreover, the A350-900ULR has a range of 18,000 km / 9,700 NM and the A350-1000 has a range 16,100 km / 8,700 NM.

Airbus, A350, Qatar Airways

The A350 and 787 will be the flagships for many global fleets this decade. Photo: Getty Images

Critical period

While Rolls-Royce’s representatives seem ecstatic about the widebody order, Boeing won’t go down without a fight. The company this week highlighted that India will lead South Asian air traffic growth for the next 20 years. The region’s traffic growth is expected to grow nearly 7% annually through 2040, meaning that the area’s fleet will nearly quadruple by the time the 2030s are over.

Altogether, Air India is showing its determination to bounce back strongly in its next chapter. It had been suffering from significant financial and operational challenges for years until the Tata acquisition. It will be keen to have a well-balanced fleet as it has hopes for new heights this decade.

What are your thoughts about Air India’s potential widebody order? Do you feel that the A350 would fit in the airline’s fleet? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

Source: Bloomberg

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