Tata Group-owned Air India is at the final steps of closing a deal with US aircraft maker Boeing for 50 narrow-body Boeing 737 MAX planes for its international budget arm Air India Express, said sources privy to the matter.
The sources said the deal will be part of a large aircraft order that Air India has been discussing with Boeing Co and Airbus SE since the beginning of this fiscal.
Air India, which was taken over by the Tata group in January this year, has plans to triple its fleet over the next five years, they added.
Tata group as part of consolidating its airline business has also announced the merger of its domestic budget arm AirAsia India, which operates the Airbus A320 fleet, with Air India Express.
Air India Express at present has 24 Boeing 737 planes in its fleet. As per sources, a meeting between Air India and Boeing officials is also likely to take place on Monday to further discuss the aircraft deal.
“Air India has almost finalized the deal with Boeing to acquire 50 Boeing 737 MAX planes for Air India Express,” one of the sources said.
Air India has been in talks with Boeing for quite some time now, sources said adding that these aircraft were earlier to be delivered to China. The loss-making Air India is expecting a significant discount for these planes.
Last month, Air India Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Campbell Wilson said the airline is in discussions with Boeing, Airbus, and engine manufacturers for a “historic” order of next-generation aircraft.
As per media reports, Air India was close to placing an order for some 500 planes with Boeing and Airbus.
The discussions for the large aircraft order are still in progress and the quantum of the order has not been decided yet, said an Air India official adding that the order for new planes by Air India is likely to be announced in the coming weeks.
On December 8, Air India announced plans to refurbish its legacy wide-body fleet, comprising 40 Boeing planes, at an investment of over USD 400 million (about Rs 3,295 crore).
The company has mandated London-based product design companies JPA Design and Trendworks to assist with the cabin interior design elements of the refurbishment exercise.