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Tata Group in Talks with Boeing, Airbus Over Air India Order

Air India has a mixed fleet of over 140 Airbus and Boeing planes, and industry executives estimate it would cost Tata more than $1 billion to refurbish the ageing aircraft


Air India
The airline, with its maharajah mascot, was once renowned for its lavishly decorated planes and stellar service championed by founder JRD Tata. Photo: Reuters.

 

Aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus have met executives from India’s Tata Group in recent weeks to discuss future orders for Air India, two people familiar with the matter said.

Tata last month regained ownership of the formerly state-run carrier after nearly 70 years in a $2.4 billion equity-and-debt deal.

While the airline has lucrative landing slots, the group faces an uphill task to upgrade Air India’s aging fleet and turn around its financials and service levels.

Air India has a mixed fleet of over 140 Airbus and Boeing planes, and industry executives estimate it would cost Tata more than $1 billion to refurbish the ageing aircraft.

No comment was immediately available from any of the companies involved.

The airline, with its maharajah mascot, was once renowned for its lavishly decorated planes and stellar service championed by founder JRD Tata. Air India was founded in 1932 and nationalised in 1953.

Since the mid-2000s, however, Air India’s reputation has declined as financial troubles mounted. It flew wide-bodied planes with business class seats in poor repair and grounded some of its new 787s to use for spare parts.

Tata, the cars-to-steel conglomerate, operates two other airlines: Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines, and AirAsia India, which it operates in partnership with AirAsia Group.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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