Tata is in discussions with aircraft manufacturers regarding an Air India order

Boeing Co and Airbus SE executives met with Tata Group executives in recent weeks to discuss aircraft orders for Air India, according to two people familiar with the matter. Tatas reclaimed ownership of state-run airline Air India last month in a $2.4 billion equity-and-debt transaction. While the airline benefits from lucrative landing slots, the group faces an uphill battle to modernize Air India’s aging fleet and improve its financials and service levels.

Air India operates a mixed fleet of over 140 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and industry analysts estimate that refurbishing the aging aircraft would cost Tata more than $1 billion. Airbus declined to comment on “possible or pending” discussions with potential customers. Boeing stated that it does not comment on potential customer conversations.

Tata has yet to respond on this matter

The company did not respond to a request for comment via email. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Tata had initiated preliminary discussions with aircraft manufacturers and lessors for aircraft such as Airbus A350-900s and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, citing unnamed sources. 

The airline, which was once known for its lavishly decorated planes and stellar service, was founded by JRD Tata. In 1932, Air India was founded and nationalized in 1953. However, since the mid-2000s, as financial difficulties mounted, Air India’s reputation has deteriorated. It flew widebody planes with deteriorating business class seats and Tgrounded several of its new 787s to use as spare parts. the automobile-to-steel conglomerate also operates two additional airlines: Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines, and AirAsia India, a joint venture with AirAsia Group. 

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