Tata Group-owned Air India has agreed to buy 250 jets from Airbus, part of a massive deal for 470 planes, underlining the surging demand for air travel fueled by the country’s swelling middle class.

The virtual event was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron, signalling the political and economic importance of a deal involving India’s former flag bearer.

“This important deal shows, along with the deepening of relations between India and France, the successes and aspirations of the civil aviation sector in India. Today, civil aviation is an integral part of India’s growth,” Modi said.

What’s the Air India-Airbus plane deal?

> Air India will buy 40 wide-body A350 aircraft and another 210 narrow-body A320neo planes, Tata Sons Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran said.

> The Toulouse, France-based plane maker did not disclose financial terms of the deal, which could be worth tens of billions of dollars.

> Chandrasekaran said the A350s will be used to “fly all ultra-long distance across the globe.”

> Single-aisle A320s are typically used on short-haul routes.

> Chandrasekaran said Airbus and Tata were working on bigger partnerships, including an ambition “to bring in commercial aircraft manufacturing at some point in time in the future”.

> Air India’s order is expected to top American Airlines’s combined deal for 460 Airbus and Boeing planes more than a decade ago – making it the single largest deal by an airline.

> Air India remains India’s largest international carrier, but its domestic market share stood at only 8.6 per cent in September.

> The carrier is aiming to take a 30 per cent domestic share by the end of 2027 while expanding its fleet to cover more international routes.

> “According to several estimates, India will need over 2,000 aircraft in the next 15 years. This historic announcement will help in catering to this increasing demand,” Modi said.

(With inputs from Reuters, AP, AFP)

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