Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Air India Navigates Industry Challenges With Strategic CFM Pact & Potential Apple Collaboration

By Staff Correspondent

Air India, backed by the Tata Group, has inked a definitive agreement with engine manufacturer CFM International to power its expanding fleet of Airbus A320/A321neos and Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. This substantial order includes a multi-year service contract for LEAP engines, expected to considerably bolster the airline’s operational efficiency and environmental footprint.

CEO and Managing Director Campbell Wilson stated, “The introduction on a greater scale of the LEAP engine, along with our services agreement, will help us to optimise our operations, benefitting our customers as well as the environment.” The deal is expected to provide much-needed stability in light of the ongoing technical challenges faced by other Indian carriers, such as IndiGo and Go First, with engine service provider Pratt & Whitney.

The LEAP engine is an environmentally friendly alternative with lower CO2 emissions, reduced noise, and improved fuel efficiency of up to 20%. With over 33 million engine flight hours and 15 million flight cycles under its belt, CFM International’s LEAP has proven to be one of the most rapidly adopted engines in commercial aviation history.

In tandem with this significant engine pact, Air India is also exploring a potential partnership with tech titan Apple. Wilson confirmed that the airline’s executive team spent time at Apple’s Palo Alto headquarters to probe deeper into opportunities for collaboration. The potential alliance could bolster the airline’s technological capabilities and enhance its customer offering.

During his United States visit, Wilson also engaged with Stanford University, fostering dialogue on the latest ideas in inventory and pricing optimisation and improved engine performance and emissions reductions.

To further enhance its corporate culture, Air India plans to roll out a quarterly ‘pulse check’ to better understand employee suggestions and concerns.

Concurrently, the airline has received approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to commence preparations for inducting Rolls Royce-powered A350s into its fleet. This comes as part of a broader plan to augment its wide-body fleet by 30% by the end of the current fiscal year in March 2024, including six new Airbus A350s, five leased Boeing B777-LRs, and nine Boeing B777-ER aircraft. In addition, the airline has allocated $400 million for an interior refit of the remaining fleet as part of its wider ambitions to revamp its operations.

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