By Staff Correspondent
In a remarkable display of India’s aviation prowess, Indian carriers IndiGo and Air India emerged as dominant buyers at the recently held Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport. Out of more than 1,000 aircraft ordered during the show, a staggering 970 were acquired by the two Indian airlines.
This display of aggressive procurement comes just months after Air India, the national flag carrier, announced a purchase agreement for 470 aircraft at the same event. Concurrently, Gurugram-based budget airline IndiGo finalised an order for 500 planes from the Airbus 320neo family. This order not only trumps that of Air India but also sets a new record in commercial aviation for the largest single purchase agreement.
Reacting to this aviation feat, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed it as a significant victory for Britain’s aerospace sector, indicating the deal could generate billions for the UK economy and support numerous jobs.
IndiGo’s latest acquisition brings the total count of Airbus aircraft ordered by the carrier to 1,330 over the past 12 years. However, delivery of the new order will commence only post-2026, according to aviation experts. CEO Pieter Elbers, hinting at the airline’s future growth plan, stated that the additional aircraft would aid IndiGo’s domestic and international network expansion.
Meanwhile, the country’s nascent carrier, Akasa Air, bolstered its international aspirations by ordering four additional Boeing 737-8 MAX jets.
The record orders by IndiGo and Air India have stimulated a debate in national and international press circles concerning which party had negotiated a superior deal. However, as aviation experts like Satyendra Pandey of AT-TV remark, such associations are mostly conjecture considering the orders were placed independently.
Comparatively, IndiGo has requested 500 A320/321/321 XLRs, while Air India has asked for a mix of 140 A320s, 70 A321s and 190 Boeing 737 MAX 8/10s, with an additional 50 737 MAXs as an option. Pandey explains that IndiGo’s order aligns with its fleet type, enabling economies of scale and competitive costs. Air India’s diversified order caters to its business model that incorporates both full-service and low-cost carriers.
IndiGo plans to use this deal to foster new routes from tier II and tier III cities within India and to broaden its international network. The airline’s ambitious international plans extend to 32 destinations, including the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. With this expansion, Indian carriers could increase their current 40% international market share to approximately 50% by 2030, predicts Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, Senior Director at CRISIL Market Intelligence.
Describing the massive orders as a testament to India’s extraordinary growth potential, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, believes they will expedite the expansion of India’s aviation ecosystem. Experts concur, viewing the robust pipeline for new aircraft as a significant boost for India’s entire aviation value chain.
Satyendra Pandey from AT-TV asserts these orders could also significantly impact India’s delayed entry into the high-revenue MRO and aircraft leasing sectors. This, however, will require rigorous policy and taxation reforms. With India on track to becoming the world’s third-largest aviation market by 2030, the ripple effects of a thriving aviation economy could be tremendous.