Boeing is bullish that a successful partial privatisation of Air India and Indian Airways will increase sales prospects despite long delays in the fleet renewal plans of both carriers.

One industry source predicts that Air India, which currently uses only around one-third of its international route licences, could require up to 50 new widebodies over the next three to five years if privatisation is successful.

Indian Airlines, in which a substantial minority stake is also up for sale, urgently needs to finalise its long-awaited order for up to 40 narrowbodies and continues to evaluate final bids from Boeing and Airbus. It has yet to make a decision on selection at board level, which will then have to be approved by the Indian Government; it remains unclear whether a deal can be done before a June privatisation.

The carrier asked for bids covering 16 aircraft in the 100- to 120-seat category, eight seating 140 and 15 with more than 150 seats. Boeing offered a mix of 717s and Next Generation 737s, while Airbus has proposed its A320 family.


Boeing India president Suvendoo Ray says the US company has offered an interim lease of 737s before new aircraft delivery, and will assist Indian Airlines in obtaining US Exim bank financing for the purchase. Airbus did not attend Aero India 2001.

Air India continues to delay its medium-capacity long-range (MCLR) requirement, which has existed since 1989, in favour of adding 747-300s and A310-300s on interim leases. The airline had been evaluating models from the 767/777 and A330/A340 families.

Snecma has signed a memorandum of understanding with Air India to set up an aero-engine maintenance joint venture in the country. The French company says the project could be launched within the next two years if the number of CFM56s operating with Indian carriers increases substantially from the current 62, though once implemented the venture would also overhaul other engine types.

Source: Flight International