French premier meets with Indian government in effort to keep $2 billion order on track

The French government has stepped in to help Airbus secure Indian Airlines' planned order for 43 A320 family aircraft as Boeing works to have the choice overturned.

French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin met Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in New Delhi on 7 February and raised the issue of the proposed Indian Airlines deal, which has been in limbo for nearly a year. Indian government officials have promised a quick decision.

The airline said last March that the A320 family had been chosen over the Boeing 737 and was seeking government approval to conclude a deal for 43 aircraft worth over $2 billion. With approval still not secured, however, Boeing hopes to snatch the deal.

Airbus vice-president sales for India and Africa Kiran Rao says Indian Airlines plans to retain its fleet of around 40 A320s after it acquires new aircraft, which will be used for growth and to replace subsidiary Alliance Air's 737-200s.

Plans call for the 43-aircraft deal to comprise 20 A321s, 19 A319s and four A320s. The new aircraft will be powered by CFM International CFM56 engines, despite its existing A320s being equipped with the rival International Aero Engines V2500.

Meanwhile, state-owned national carrier Air India is moving forward with long-delayed plans to acquire new aircraft. It aims to acquire 18 narrowbodies - either A321s or 737-900s - and 10 widebodies - either Airbus A340-300s or Boeing 777-200ERs - plus seven options. The manufacturers have submitted widebody offers, and have until the end of February to submit bids in the narrowbody category.


Source: Flight International