It is not often that one gets to witness an American president and a British prime minister together praising in glorious terms a business deal struck by an Indian company and stating how it would generate massive employment in their respective countries. Air India’s mega deal to purchase 470 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, worth tens of billions of dollars, has generated a huge buzz in the civil aviation sector and comes as a testimony to India’s growing economic muscle and confirms its position on the global high table. In the biggest deal ever struck by a single airline, Air India, now part of the Tata Group, announced its plans to buy 220 passenger jets from Boeing and 250 from Airbus.
The deal, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Presidents of France and the United States, Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden, respectively, represents a key moment in India’s aviation sector, particularly in the wake of the recent turbulence caused by the pandemic and further exacerbated by rising fuel costs and slim profit margins. The significance of the biggest order for passenger aircraft in history goes far beyond Air India and Indian aviation. It has the potential to boost flagging western economies and sends a vital diplomatic message. It also marks a milestone in the Tata Group’s expansion plans and can potentially alter patterns of traffic in India’s skies. The Air India agreement also has major downstream implications, especially in manufacturing and technology sectors.