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
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
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.