The country's airline industry is poised for expansion with more than 1,100 planes on order by various domestic carriers.
After more than 17 years, Air India, now owned by Tata Group, on Tuesday placed orders for a total of 470 planes with Airbus and Boeing. The total order, comprising wide-body and narrow-body aircraft, is the largest so far by an Indian carrier and also one of the largest single aircraft orders in the world.
The country's largest airline IndiGo has around 500 planes on order and Akasa Air has placed an order for 72 Boeing narrow-body aircraft, out of which 16 planes have been delivered. That leaves Akasa Air with 56 aircraft on order.
Go First, earlier known as Go Air, has 72 planes on order while Vistara is to receive 17 more Boeing planes. Together, Air India, IndiGo, Akasa Air, Go First and Vistara have at least 1,115 planes on order.
Currently, there are around 700 commercial aircraft in the country, with a majority of them being narrow-body or single-aisle planes. Among others, around 470 aircraft of Airbus and about 159 Boeing planes are in commercial service in India.
India is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world and aircraft maker Boeing on Tuesday projected the country will require around 2,210 new planes in the next two decades and also pegged annual domestic air traffic growth to be nearly 7 per cent through 2041.
On February 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country's growing aviation sector would need over 2,000 aircraft in the next 15 years. Aviation consultancy CAPA on February 8, said Indian carriers are likely to place orders for 1,500 to 1,700 planes in the next one to two years.
According to Air India Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Campbell Wilson, in addition to the 470 aircraft on firm order, the airline has secured a number of options and purchase rights.
"These give us the option, but not the obligation, to take additional aircraft at already-negotiated production slots and/or prices so that we can nimbly accommodate further growth and manage risk," he said in a message to the airline staff on Tuesday after the announcement of the mega deal.
Air India, which is charting the revival path under the Tata Group, will acquire 250 planes from Airbus, including 40 wide-body A350 aircraft, and 220 planes from Boeing.
"The firm element of the order comprises 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777-9 wide-body aircraft, as well as 210 Airbus A320/321 neos and 190 Boeing 737 MAX narrow bodies. The A350 aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce engines, and the B777/787s by engines from GE Aerospace. All 400 narrowbody aircraft will be powered by engines from CFM International," the Air India chief said.
On February 3, IndiGo said that in the 2022 December quarter, the airline added 22 passenger aircraft (net of deliveries) to reach the 300 aircraft mark. "It is indeed a great milestone in our journey, and we will continue to take further deliveries from our large order book of 500 aircraft".
The latest Air India order is the first one by the airline in more than 17 years and second one by an Indian airline post the pandemic. In 2005, Air India, under government ownership, had ordered 111 planes -- 68 from Boeing and 43 from Airbus.
Akasa Air, which launched services in August last year, has placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 Max planes. IndiGo was the first airline to have placed the largest aircraft order in Indian history -- 100 Airbus narrow-body aircraft -- in 2005. This was followed by 180 Airbus planes order in 2011, 250 Airbus planes ordered in 2015 and 300 Airbus planes order in 2019.
Rival SpiceJet too had announced acquiring 205 planes in 2017 with 155 of them Boeing Max planes. Wadia Group-owned domestic carrier Go First had placed an order for 144 Airbus 320 of 72 planes each in -- 2011 and 2016. Specific details about how many planes have been delivered to the airlines could not be immediately ascertained.
In its report, CAPA said the total commercial Indian fleet of around 700 aircraft is smaller than some of the world's largest individual airlines and that given the immense potential that exists, it stands to reason that there is a need to induct more aircraft.
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