The Tata-owned carrier is set to buy 220 aircraft from Boeing and 250 from Airbus in a deal which has shattered all previous records for a deal placed by a single airline.
By: Shubham Ghosh
Air India on Monday (27) said it plans to use internal cash, equity and sale-and-leasebacks to fund its massive $70-billion (£58.1 billion) order for a record 470 aircraft, which has stolen the headlines not only in the Indian aviation sector but also abroad, Reuters reported.
The Tata Sons-owned carrier said a couple of weeks ago that it would buy 220 aircraft from Boeing and 250 from Airbus in the deal which has broken all previous records for a deal placed by a single airline.
According to Reuters, Air India chief executive officer Campbell Wilson said on Monday, “So the principal driver (for the plane order) was really recognising the opportunity for Indian aviation and putting in place the investment in the capacity of the aircraft in order to realise that for India’s benefit.”
Adding that the carrier sees a significant opportunity in long-haul international, Wilson said a new order featuring 70 wide-body jets combined with its existing fleet and other leased planes means “a many-fold increase in Air India’s widebody long-haul fleet, and therefore, capacity”, the report added.
Air India’s renaissance under the Tata conglomerate, which took over the previously state-controlled carrier last year, has a goal of capitalising on India’s broadening base of fliers and a huge diaspora worldwide.
Wilson said there are big opportunities in direct flights to North America that are yet to be tapped, the Reuters report added. He added that Air India will start more frequent flights to European nations, including to places such as Frankfurt, Paris and destinations in the UK.
Air India is also focusing on refurbishing and upgrading its planes by spending $400 million (£332.4 million), especially on long-haul routes as it aims to compete with carriers such as Emirates.
The CEO said that Air India is inducting 500 cabin crew each month. Last week, the airline said that it will hire more than 4,200 cabin crew and 900 pilots.