Business & Economy

Air India to buy 250 jets from France’s Airbus

New Delhi, Feb 14 (EFE).- Air India announced Tuesday that it would buy 250 planes from French aircraft manufacturer Airbus, including 210 narrow-body and 40 wide-body jets.

The former state-owned carrier is in a revamp mode a year after the Tata Group gained control of the loss-making, debt-ridden enterprise for 180 billion Indian rupees ($2.4 billion) to acquire the government’s 100 percent stake in Air India.

“We are happy to say that we have signed a letter of intent to acquire 250 aircraft,” said N. Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Group.

He said the airline was going through “a massive transformation.”

Chandrasekaran said having a modern and efficient fleet that could perform for all routes was “one of the most important things” to do.

“We also have significant options to increase the fleet order once we grow. The relationship with Airbus is particularly important because it is developing to be a 360-degree relationship between Tata Group and Airbus.”

Tata’s head said the 250 aircraft to be bought from Airbus would include 40 A350 wide-body planes, to fly long-distance sectors, and 210 narrow-body jets.

The two companies announced the deal in a virtual event attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Airbus President Guillaume Faury said the size of the deal explained the Indian aviation sector “is the fastest growing in the world.”

“The magnitude of the Air India order (for) 250 planes that Chandra just explained demonstrates the growth of the Indian aviation industry,” Faury said. “We at Airbus are very proud and grateful that the Tata group has chosen the A350 and 320 Neo to revive Air India.”

Modi called the deal “historic,” saying it showed the deepening bilateral ties between India and France.

“I want to especially thank my French President Macron as this important day is not only important for deep India-France relations but also portrays India’s successes and ambition in the field of civil aviation.”

Macron expressed France’s “deep commitment to providing the most modern and cutting-edge technologies to India.”

“I want to tell everybody that for me, this very important contract and this achievement today is one of the milestones of the in-depth strategic and friendly partnership we have between India and France,” he said.

Tata took control of the indebted Air India airlines on Jan.28 last year, nearly seven decades after it was nationalized by the Indian authorities in 1953.

The sale came into effect Tata Sons paid 2.7 billion rupees (about $359 million) to the government and took over the airline’s debt of 15.3 billion rupees of debt.

The Tata Group now controls three airlines in the country, with Vistara and AirAsia India being the other two, where it holds majority shares.

Last November, Singapore Airlines (SIA) announced a $250 million investment in Air India as part of a deal to merge Air India and Vistara.

Air India and Vistara have 218 narrow and wide-body aircraft, serving 38 international and 52 domestic destinations. EFE


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