India's flagship airline Air India is close to ordering 500 jetliners from Airbus and Boeing worth tens of billions of dollars, according to a media report.
According to industry sources, under the Tata Group conglomerate, the company is set for a comeback, news agency Reuters reported.
The sources spoke on condition of anonymity since the deal is still in its final stages. As part of the order, it includes 400 narrow-body jets and 100 or more wide-body jets, primarily dozens of Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s and 777s.
At list price, this would be one of the biggest volume deals by a single airline and would exceed USD 100 billion, including any options. A combined order of 460 Airbus and Boeing jets from American Airlines almost a decade ago would be outshone.
On this matter, Airbus and Boeing refused to comment. Even Air India did not respond immediately.
As part of the potential order, Tata has announced the merger of Air India with Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines, allowing it to operate domestically and internationally as a fully integrated carrier.
With that deal, Tata becomes India's largest international airline and the second-largest domestic carrier after IndiGo, thanks to its fleet of 218 aircraft. Maharajah, the airline’s mascot once enjoyed a reputation for lavishly decorated planes and exceptional services, but its reputation declined after its financial troubles surfaced in the mid-2000s.
Air India was founded by JRD Tata in 1932 and it was nationalised in 1953. In January, it regained control of the airline and is now working to restore its reputation as a world-class carrier.
A deliberate strategy is under way to win back a substantial share of the traffic flows into and out of India, which are currently dominated by foreign carriers, such as Emirates.
As well as competing with IndiGo on the international front, Air India is aiming to gain a larger share of the domestic market. A total of 500 airplanes will be delivered over the next decade in the world’s fastest-growing airline market, supporting Narendra Modi’s goal of expanding the economy to USD five trillion.