Air India talks to Boeing, Airbus; eyes A380

State-owned airline Air India has begun talks with Boeing and Airbus to buy new planes. The airline is taking a keen interest in the Airbus A380 superjumbo, sources said on Friday 21 September.

Earlier in July, Air India had said it plans to buy about 60 new passenger jetliners over the next few years. It said it would start the selection and purchase process by mid-August. The new merged Air India, which is run by the National Aviation Company of India (NACIL), has a fleet of more than 110 planes with an additional 111 on order.

The airline has set up a committee that is discussing what kind of planes to buy - how many of small capacity, how many large, how many short haul and how many of ultra-long range.

Possibilities in large, long-haul aircraft include both Airbus's A380 superjumbo and Boeing's 747-800 jumbo. Air India has already ordered 68 Boeing jets, worth over $11 billion at list prices in December 2005. Indian Airlines has placed a $2.2 billion order in February 2006 with Airbus, for 43 planes.

India's aviation industry is expected to grow by more than 25 per cent annually over the next few years as a rapidly expanding economy boosts incomes, making it an attractive market for local and international carriers.