Air India nears historic order for up to 500 jets

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Air India is close to placing landmark orders for as many as 500 jetliners worth tens of billions of dollars from both Airbus and Boeing as it carves out an ambitious renaissance under the Tata Group conglomerate, industry sources said.

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.

Such a deal could top $100 billion dollars 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. Even after significant expected discounts, the deal would be worth tens of billions of dollars and cap a volatile year for plane giants whose jets are again in demand after the pandemic, but who face mounting industrial and environmental pressures.

It would also allow Airbus to secure a home for some A350 production slots initially earmarked for Russia’s Aeroflot and now left open because of war-related sanctions against Moscow. Airbus (AIR.PA) and Boeing declined to comment. Tata Group-owned Air India did not respond to a request for comment.

China last week delivered its first C919 jetliner but is at least a decade away from competing on such a scale, experts say. The potential blockbuster 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.