Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday unveiled Air India’s deal with Airbus to acquire 250 planes, describing it as a “landmark agreement” that showcases the “deepening” of Indo-French relations and the success of India’s civil aviation sector.

“In the next 15 years, India will need over 2,000 aircraft. Today’s historic announcement will play a role in meeting the increased demand,” the Prime Minister said at a video conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday. The new partnership between Air India and Airbus was announced at the conference.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with French President Emmanuel Macron via video conferencing, in New Delhi on Tuesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with French President Emmanuel Macron via video conferencing, in New Delhi on Tuesday | Photo Credit: PTI

“The Tata Group has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Airbus to acquire 250 aircraft, including the 40-seat wide-body A350, which will be used to fly ultra-long distances. Along with this, an order for 210 A320 Neos, Airbus’ narrow-body aircraft, has been placed,” said N Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons.

“This achievement shows that Airbus and all its French partners are fully dedicated to developing new areas of cooperation with India,” Macron said at the video conference.

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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, too, welcomed the “momentous deal” for Airbus and Rolls-Royce to provide new aircraft for Air India, which is worth billions of pounds to the UK, per a press statement issued by the British High Commission in New Delhi. The A350 aircraft are exclusively powered by Rolls-Royce XWB engines, which are assembled and tested in Derby, according to the statement.

The deal with Airbus is likely to cost the airline $100 billion. It is part of a huge order by Air India for 500 aircraft, which is also likely to include an order for 220 planes from Boeing. Besides this, Air India has signed deals with engine original equipment manufacturers for these aircraft.

Chandrasekaran said that Air India’s relationship with Airbus was important.

“One of our ambitions for this country is to bring in commercial aircraft manufacturing in the future. We have teams aligned on both sides, and we see this as a significant moment for Air India, the aviation sector, and the manufacturing sector in India. 

It is a historic moment for Airbus to help script Air India’s revival, Airbus Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said.

Boeing order

On the order placed with Boeing, President Joe Biden in a statement issued by the White House called it a “historic agreement.” This purchase will support over one million American jobs across 44 states, and many will not require a four-year college degree. This announcement also reflects the strength of the U.S.-India economic partnership,”

Sources said that a call after a call between PM Modi and President Biden, and regulatory approvals by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Letter of Intent was signed. “Together with Prime Minister Modi, I look forward to deepening our partnership even further as we continue to confront shared global challenges—creating a more secure and prosperous future for all of our citizens,” Biden added.