Air India is “reorganising itself” under the Tata group and will look at refurbishing its fleet with new aircraft, said a senior executive at Airbus on Sunday.
The erstwhile govt-owned carrier is said to be considering an order for the European plane maker’s A350 widebodied planes. This would be its first aircraft order since 2006. It would also make it the first Indian airline to order the A350, which is fast gaining popularity among global airlines for its fuel efficiency despite its size and range.
Earlier this week, Air India sent a memo to its pilots enlisting interest in training for the A350. Tata group executives haven’t commented on its plans.
“Air India is clearly reorganising itself under the able stewardship of the Tatas and as such it’s very natural that they contemplate an investment in new fleets and new airplanes, if only to regain more sovereignty and more market share for an Indian carrier in the international market,” said Christian Scherer, chief commercial officer at Airbus on the sidelines of a press conference with Australian carrier Qantas on joint initiatives on sustainable fuel.
Airbus’ top executives are among the hundreds of airline and aerospace company bosses who are in Doha, attending the two-day annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) an industry body.
Scherer said he couldn’t comment on discussions with Air India/Tatas on plane orders. According to people in the know, he and his team have been in talks with the Tatas on Air India’s new aircraft orders for the last six months. N Chandrasekaran, chairman of the airline and of the aviation-to-automobile conglomerate, along with his team, has had several meetings in Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse, France and its key manufacturing hub in Hamburg, Germany.
The Tatas won the loss-making, deeply indebted airline after a competitive bidding process in October last year.