Airbus, Boeing eye $6 B India deal

By agencies   |   Tuesday, 26 April 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: The Indian aviation officials are meeting today to discuss the $6 billion deal for 50 new aircrafts. This is one of the biggest deal in Indian aviation history which the two aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing cannot miss as the Air India has short listed both Boeing's 777 and the Airbus A 340.

Though Air India had decided to go for Airbus, they later opted for Boeing as most of their old fleet consists Boeing aircraft and this has panicked the French who are lobbying for Airbus. French Transport Minister Gilles De Robien called on Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel with an eye on the deal. "If the selection is objective they know that Airbus is the best plane to buy today," says Robien.

But the Americans are not just keeping quiet. About 10 days ago, U.S. Transport secretary Norman Minneta had lobbied for American plane maker Boeing.

He said if Air India buys Boeing planes it would help Indo-U.S. relations.

The Civil Aviation ministry said under pressure the government might tell Air India to buy both Boeing and Airbus jets.

The Air India board is holding a crucial meeting today. With $6 billion at stake clearly both the United States and France are putting pressure to buy their planes. Air India Express, the new low cost airline operating to the West Asia region, which starts flights on April 29, has decided to buy 18 brand new B737-800 planes from Boeing at a cost of $1 billion.

Earlier the Toulouse based Airbus said India will need 570 new jets by 2023 i.e. 348 more planes than its forecast just two years ago.

The Indian government has recently signed new air service bilateral agreements with the United States, Britain, France, China and Qatar. This will open up more travel and remove restrictions.

So for Boeing and Airbus, a pot of gold is awaiting at the end of rainbow.

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