Is there a new aircraft mega-order from India in the pipeline?
This is what French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire hinted at on February 23, 2023, during his recent trip to Delhi for the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
French business newspaper Les Échos reported that Indian low-cost airline IndiGo may be preparing to order “several hundred” airliners from Airbus.
This order would add to the 730 Airbus A320-family aircraft that Indigo has ordered over the last few years.
But the Indian LCC is not the only game in town. Le Maire’s comments come days after Air India confirmed one of the largest aircraft orders in the history of commercial aviation: a total of 470 aircraft, of which 250 are from Airbus and 220 (+70 options) from Boeing.
Another Indian carrier, Akasa Air, is said to be considering a substantial aircraft order of its own too, although the startup carrier has so far stuck to Boeing.
The volume of orders coming from Indian airlines is such that it has prompted calls for a final assembly line to be built in India. Recent reports in the Indian media have suggested that that country’s government had been subtly sounding out both Airbus and Boeing about that very possibility.
This potential development also comes in light of Airbus’s existing cooperation with local partners to assemble C-295 military transport aircraft in India. There’s also the precedent of the European aircraft manufacturer decentralizing part of its production to key markets such as the US and China.
The prospect of building Airbus aircraft in India in the future was also discussed during a video conference with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron and the CEOs of both Airbus and Tata Sons, the business conglomerate that purchased Air India.
In a similar vein, CAPA Aviation published a report in February 2023, according to which it expected Indian carriers to order up to 1,700 aircraft within the next 12 to 24 months.