Air India is clearly reorganising itself under the ”able stewardship” of the Tata Group and wants to invest in new planes to regain international passenger market share, the Chief Commercial Officer of Airbus said here on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) held here, Christian Scherer was asked whether Air India had finalised the A350 aircraft order with Airbus.
”I will not comment on that,” the Chief Commercial Officer of the European Aerospace company said in response.
His remarks came after it was reported last week that the Tata Group-owned Air India has decided to procure its maiden batch of wide-bodied A350 aircraft from Airbus and the first plane is likely to be delivered to the airline by March 2023.
However, it was not immediately clear how many A350 aircraft will be purchased by Air India.
”Air India is clearly reorganising itself under the very able stewardship of the Tatas and as such, it is very natural that they contemplate an investment in new fleets, new airplanes, if only to regain more sovereignty, more market share, for an Indian carrier in the international market,” Scherer said.
Air India has not bought a single aircraft since 2006 when it had placed orders for purchasing 111 aircraft – 68 from the US-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing and 43 from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.
A wide-bodied plane like Airbus A350 has a bigger fuel tank that allows it to travel longer distances such as India-US routes.
The Tata Group took control of Air India on January 27 after successfully winning the bid for the airline on October 8 last year.
Sources told PTI on June 15 that Air India had started asking its senior pilots if they will be interested in getting the ”conversion training” to operate A350 aircraft.
Air India’s pilots are trained to operate the wide-bodied aircraft of Boeing. Therefore, they have to undergo ”conversion training” to operate the A350 aircraft of Airbus.
According to Air India’s website, the airline has a total of 49 wide-bodied aircraft – 18 Boeing B777, 4 Boeing B747 and 27 Boeing B787 – in its fleet. The carrier has 79 narrow-bodied planes in its fleet too.
Sources had said Air India was purchasing A350 aircraft and is likely to get its first A350 plane by March 2023.
Since April, airline’s chairman N Chandrasekaran – who also is the chairman of the Tata Group – has rejigged the top management of the airline, bringing in senior and middle-level executives who have worked in other companies of the Tata Group such as Tata Steel and Vistara.