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Mon, Jan 09, 2006

Expanding Air India Plans To Sign Big Boeing Deal

Order For 68 Aircraft, Including 50 Dreamliners

Barring a last-minute upset, India’s national carrier, Air India, is expected to move forward with its expansion plans this week by signing a contract with Boeing for the purchase of 68 aircraft.

According to The Indian Express news service, the airline is ordering Boeing’s 777-200LR, 777-300ER and 50 of its new 787 Dreamliners. Alan Mulally will be at the Air India office in South Mumbai on Wednesday to sign the contract.

The formal bidding process is due to end Monday -- meaning Boeing archrival Airbus could still come through with a deal at the last minute.

Boeing is requiring a pre-delivery payment. In order to make this payment, Air India will have to obtain interim loans to raise the needed $429 million.

As part of the deal, both Air India and Boeing are also expected to collaborate on building a $100 million maintenance and repair facility in India -- a move similar to Airbus's commitment to building an A320 repair facility in China, as part of the 150-plane deal reported by Aero-News in December.

The agreement between Air Indian and Boeing is not making everyone happy, as the deal exposes a political tussle between the European Union and the US -- hardly anything new. The EU reportedly resents the deal because Air India chose Boeing instead of European-based Airbus for the deal -- the largest-ever aircraft purchase by an Indian carrier.

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.airindia.com

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