Cool: Air India Likely To Order Airbus A350s

Cool: Air India Likely To Order Airbus A350s

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With Air India having recently been privatized, the company’s new owners seem to be focused on a long haul fleet renewal. I’m pretty excited about this.

Air India may acquire 20 Airbus A350s

As reported by Bloomberg, Air India has sent a memo to pilots, asking if they’d like to be trained to fly the Airbus A350 jet. Those who accept the offer would be ineligible to be trained on another aircraft for at least two years.

The memo suggests that Air India is looking to renew its wide body fleet, and that the airline could start flying A350s by as early as the first quarter of 2023. Sources suggest that the airline intends to place an order for roughly 20 Airbus A350s, though the details remain to be seen.

There’s nothing official yet, but based on the timeline it seems highly likely that Air India may be nearing a deal to acquire Airbus A350s that were intended for either Aeroflot or Qatar Airways:

For context, Air India’s long haul fleet currently consists of 43 aircraft, including three Boeing 777-200LRs, 13 Boeing 777-300ERs, and 27 Boeing 787-8s. The 777s are an average of over 12 years old, while the 787s are an average of over seven years old.

Air India Boeing 787 business class

This would be an awesome development for Air India

It goes without saying that Air India has an incredible amount of potential, in the sense that India is a massive, lucrative, growing aviation market. In many ways Air India is hindered by its legacy issues, and the airline would almost be better off starting from scratch, while still having access to Air India’s slots (though that’s not going to happen).

I remember back when Air India started taking delivery of Boeing 787s, many of us hoped the airline would invest in the premium experience, and start to transform itself and become a competitive airline. That didn’t really happen, and instead we saw the airline use some 787s for parts. Hopefully it’s different this time.

I at least have faith that Air India’s A350s would feature a far superior hard product, especially if the jets were bound for Aeroflot. Aeroflot’s A350s feature an all new business class product with doors, which looks way better than anything Air India currently has.

Aeroflot A350 business class

It would be mighty cool to see cabins like this at Air India!

Bottom line

While nothing has been publicly announced, it’s believed that Air India is preparing to place an order for A350s, which could be delivered in early 2023. If this were to happen, presumably these are jets that were intended for Aeroflot. Here’s to hoping that this becomes a reality, and that it marks the start of a new chapter for the airline.

What do you make of Air India potentially ordering A350s?

Conversations (25)
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  1. SAS Guest

    Ordering new aircraft and ordering new types of aircraft for Air India are both reasonable options.

    In my opinion, the basic problem is one of maintenance. Around 4 years ago I flew Air India from the US to India and found the signature Boeing 777-300 ER planes used on that sector to be old, poorly maintained with around half the inflight monitors dysfunctional at best.

    The airline needs to maintain its existing fleet...

    Ordering new aircraft and ordering new types of aircraft for Air India are both reasonable options.

    In my opinion, the basic problem is one of maintenance. Around 4 years ago I flew Air India from the US to India and found the signature Boeing 777-300 ER planes used on that sector to be old, poorly maintained with around half the inflight monitors dysfunctional at best.

    The airline needs to maintain its existing fleet better and refurbish its cabins and improve the attitude of the staff on the ground as well as in the air. Otherwise Air India's newer planes will come across as being decrepit.

  2. DCharlie Guest

    Air India is basically like AA or UA of the US. Definitely nothing cool. Just a basic form of transportation.

  3. Emily Guest

    Ouch for Boeing!

    Glad to see this new potential purchase. I have had a pleasant experience on AI's business product in the past. Nothing spectacular, but definitely not unpleasant nor uncomfortable, which is more than I can say for the junk flying around within the US.

  4. Azamaraal Diamond

    With an existing fleet that is basically Boeing and with the 787 supposedly more fuel efficient I think that this is silly. However, with the 787 delays and the fire-sale of the 350's this might tip the scales to cover the extra costs of new maintenance personnel, pilot training and extra fuel costs. It won't improve the passenger experience.

  5. TheBestBlackBrent Member

    Basket case airline buying new planes, this will end well!

  6. Guri S Guest

    I rather Fly Russian airline than AI.

    The problem is 2 folds:
    Indians treat Indian cabin crew like Servants
    Indian cabin crew treats Indian passengers poorly.

    I flew AI once in the last 15 years and it was a mistake. I will not fly AI because they just have the crappiest of service and everyone needs to be fired.

    Corrupt system.

  7. Phillip Gold

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the A350 will solve AI’s problems. I read this article as saying that following the more critical step which was privatisation, it’s exciting to see a new aircraft type join the airline with a superior hard product. Another step in the right direction. Not the solution to all things AI of course!

  8. John Guest

    Lucky, if Air India couldn't make it work with a whole constellation of different aircraft types, what makes you think the a350 (with or without sliding doors in business class) will magically transform the airline? There is nothing inherently 'cool' about the a350 or 787 or a380 or whatever..........it's the combination of hard & soft product, especially when it comes to customer service that really makes an airline zing! Yes, I know it's a private...

    Lucky, if Air India couldn't make it work with a whole constellation of different aircraft types, what makes you think the a350 (with or without sliding doors in business class) will magically transform the airline? There is nothing inherently 'cool' about the a350 or 787 or a380 or whatever..........it's the combination of hard & soft product, especially when it comes to customer service that really makes an airline zing! Yes, I know it's a private company now. But the prudent thing to do is wait and see. You could gift a fleet of a350 to worse airlines like Air Zimbabwe or Air Koryo, but that alone doesn't make anything about the aircraft and those airlines 'cool'.

  9. Steven E Guest

    Air India has proven over and over that it’s a car crash - more good money after bad

  10. TheTruthIs Guest

    There is nothing "cool" about Air India. Regardless of air craft type.

  11. Mm Guest

    A new aircraft type will not solve AI’s problems. That was proven by the purchase of the 787 a decade ago. The A350 doesn’t cast a magic spell for a poor operator, and neither does the 787.

  12. Sarthak Guest

    A350 checks many boxes - Indian market on international routes is notoriously price sensitive and an efficient plane like this would keep the costs low, enabling lower fares. Secondly, one of the major reasons Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have a stronghold is that they have a better product and can reach very far catchment areas for the Indian community abroad. A350 would blunt that, if the product is even in the ballpark. People are learning...

    A350 checks many boxes - Indian market on international routes is notoriously price sensitive and an efficient plane like this would keep the costs low, enabling lower fares. Secondly, one of the major reasons Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have a stronghold is that they have a better product and can reach very far catchment areas for the Indian community abroad. A350 would blunt that, if the product is even in the ballpark. People are learning quickly the risk of getting stranded overnight at awful connecting airports like LHR, CDG due to visa complications, so the value of long haul nonstops is increasing. I'd say well done Tata. Look forward to more routes to North America, Australia and Europe. Especially from underserved markets like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, etc.

  13. SNO Guest

    It looks like the TaTa management decided to first compete on international routes head on with it’s competitors by choosing the most efficient plane available at the moment, since the domestic marked is rather crowded with IndiGo and others.
    A fleet mix of A220/A321 for the domestic market and A321XLR/A350 for mid and long range destinations might be a rather efficient mix.
    There would be the 787, but with so many airlines waiting...

    It looks like the TaTa management decided to first compete on international routes head on with it’s competitors by choosing the most efficient plane available at the moment, since the domestic marked is rather crowded with IndiGo and others.
    A fleet mix of A220/A321 for the domestic market and A321XLR/A350 for mid and long range destinations might be a rather efficient mix.
    There would be the 787, but with so many airlines waiting to finally receive a 787 delivered it’s pointless to order a 787 and the sit and wait for delivers in the not all to fare future. The 777-9 … too big, too heavy to succeed and not deliverable in the foreseeable future. Todays A350-1000 is already more efficient on a per seat comparison then the 777-9. Why wait for a fat pig more then half a decade, that doesn’t perform.

  14. Chandan Bhat Gold

    Both Indian Newspapers as well as Bloomberg are reporting orders of upto 50 A350s, ( https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/france-s-airbus-close-to-clinching-air-india-deal-for-50-a350-aircraft-122061501262_1.html ) and as per Bloomberg, there could be an additional order for 100 A321 Neos too.

    1. Chandan Bhat Gold

      My bad, Business Standard reports 50 A350s and 100 A321 Neos too.

    2. SNO Guest

      Question is, what credentials do the Indian newspaper have. AirIndia is looking for A350 flight crews, that’s the single only thing, that is real. “Airbus is clinching a deal” is a catch phrase to grab attention, to create hype and excitement. There is no further information about the sub type mix (-900 and -1000) and there is also no break down in confirmed orders and options. Therefore I’m considering the numbers published by Indian newspapers...

      Question is, what credentials do the Indian newspaper have. AirIndia is looking for A350 flight crews, that’s the single only thing, that is real. “Airbus is clinching a deal” is a catch phrase to grab attention, to create hype and excitement. There is no further information about the sub type mix (-900 and -1000) and there is also no break down in confirmed orders and options. Therefore I’m considering the numbers published by Indian newspapers as highly speculative, not trustworthy.

    3. SNO Guest

      Question is, what credentials do the Indian newspaper have. AirIndia is looking for A350 flight crews, that’s the single only thing, that is real. “Airbus is clinching a deal” is a catch phrase to grab attention, to create hype and excitement. There is no further information about the sub type mix (-900 and -1000) and there is also no break down in confirmed orders and options. Therefore I’m considering the numbers published by Indian newspapers...

      Question is, what credentials do the Indian newspaper have. AirIndia is looking for A350 flight crews, that’s the single only thing, that is real. “Airbus is clinching a deal” is a catch phrase to grab attention, to create hype and excitement. There is no further information about the sub type mix (-900 and -1000) and there is also no break down in confirmed orders and options. Therefore I’m considering the numbers published by Indian newspapers as highly speculative, not trustworthy.

  15. Vijay Guest

    A relatively small fleet further complicated by another type? Decisions like this in the past (the acquisition of the 77L, for example), made by corrupt politicians, were part of the problems faced by Air India. The government is no longer the owner but the mindset hasn't changed. I would have thought they would add more of the 787, maybe the -900 one, for capacity and slowly get rid of the 777 fleet.

    1. SNO Guest

      I think the Tata management has show fare sight by choosing the A350. A 787-9 is a bad choice to replace a 777, not enough range, lesser seats and lesser freight! Expressed in your words, the Tata management would have shown the same mindset of the old management by trying to replace the 777 fleet with a less capable plane. And there is a new generation of single isle long range planes at the horizon,...

      I think the Tata management has show fare sight by choosing the A350. A 787-9 is a bad choice to replace a 777, not enough range, lesser seats and lesser freight! Expressed in your words, the Tata management would have shown the same mindset of the old management by trying to replace the 777 fleet with a less capable plane. And there is a new generation of single isle long range planes at the horizon, that will replace the 787 on many routes. You might have forgotten, that the 787 is kind of an enlarged 767 replacement.

    2. JB Guest

      The 77L does help Air India fly to SFO though (which is not possible with other AI aircraft).

  16. Mike O. Guest

    Well it just shows you Boeing's and more broadly U.S. influence are waning. For example, Japan was pretty much a Boeing and even GE stronghold for decades. That all changed when ANA started to receive their A320s, opted initially for Rolls for their 787's and their A380. Same with the A350s for JAL, and now potentially with Air India.

    1. Eagle Guest

      How’s the weather in Russia?

    2. Dave Guest

      ANA still favors Boeing widebodies. They switched o GE powered 787s and theh have 777x on order. Unlike JAL, ANA has no A350 orders

    3. Mike O. Guest

      I think the point I was trying to make was that Airbus and Rolls was able to break that proverbial firewall that Boeing had in Japan and now potentially India. Could you imagine the blow to Boeing if JAL replaces their 737NGs with the neos? Take Qantas for example, while they have 787s, they have leaned more favorable to Airbus and will be a predominantly Airbus operator once they get their A220s, neos, and A350s.

    4. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      You don't have the point that you believe yourself to.... in today's age, there's essentially no such thing as a network carrier of any size who's strictly Boeing or strictly Airbus. Airbus is no longer an upstart, having become the world's largest commercial aircraft producer, and it's almost a breach of fiduciary duty to not consider products from both OEMs in a fleet renewal procedure.

      Even single-fleet Low Cost carriers aren't immune from that effect,...

      You don't have the point that you believe yourself to.... in today's age, there's essentially no such thing as a network carrier of any size who's strictly Boeing or strictly Airbus. Airbus is no longer an upstart, having become the world's largest commercial aircraft producer, and it's almost a breach of fiduciary duty to not consider products from both OEMs in a fleet renewal procedure.

      Even single-fleet Low Cost carriers aren't immune from that effect, as we've seen recently with Allegiant, and in the past with the likes of EasyJet and Frontier.

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Phillip Gold

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the A350 will solve AI’s problems. I read this article as saying that following the more critical step which was privatisation, it’s exciting to see a new aircraft type join the airline with a superior hard product. Another step in the right direction. Not the solution to all things AI of course!

3
John Guest

Lucky, if Air India couldn't make it work with a whole constellation of different aircraft types, what makes you think the a350 (with or without sliding doors in business class) will magically transform the airline? There is nothing inherently 'cool' about the a350 or 787 or a380 or whatever..........it's the combination of hard & soft product, especially when it comes to customer service that really makes an airline zing! Yes, I know it's a private company now. But the prudent thing to do is wait and see. You could gift a fleet of a350 to worse airlines like Air Zimbabwe or Air Koryo, but that alone doesn't make anything about the aircraft and those airlines 'cool'.

1
Mm Guest

A new aircraft type will not solve AI’s problems. That was proven by the purchase of the 787 a decade ago. The A350 doesn’t cast a magic spell for a poor operator, and neither does the 787.

1
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