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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Michael Fitzpatrick

Air India splashes out 32 billion euros for fleet of Airbus planes

The Airbus A320neo, 15 percent more fuel efficient than earlier versions. AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANIS

Air India is to buy 250 new aircraft from French-based constructor Airbus, in a deal worth 32 billion euros based on current catalogue prices. This is a "historic moment for India, for Air India and for Airbus," according to the French plane-maker's chief executive, Guillaume Faury.

The deal involves the purchase of 210 narrow-body A320neo jets and 40 long-haul A350 aircraft in an ambitious plan to boost Air India's share of the domestic market, and rebrand several Indian airports as global travel hubs.

"We are going through a massive transformation," said Air India chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran, announcing the deal with French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in virtual attendance.

"One of the most important things is a modern fleet which can perform for all routes."

"Today is a historic moment for India, for Air India and for Airbus," said Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury.

"The magnitude of the Air India order demonstrates the appetite for growth in the Indian aviation industry," he added.

Macron hails a "milestone" deal

Air India remains the country's largest international carrier, but its domestic market share stood at less than 9 percent in September.

The airline is aiming to take a 30 percent domestic share by the end of 2027 while expanding its fleet to cover more international routes.

"According to several estimates, India will need over 2,000 aircraft in the next 15 years," said Modi.

"This historic announcement will help in catering to this increasing demand."

President Emmanuel Macron said the deal highlighted the bond between Paris and New Delhi.

"This achievement is one of the milestones marking the strategic partnership between India and France," he said.

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