Airbus SE has emerged as the front-runner to win an order for as many as 50 aircraft worth up to USD 5.5 billion from Jet Airways India Ltd., people familiar with the matter said, solidifying the European planemaker’s hold in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market.
Sources said Jet’s talks with Airbus are primarily for A320 Neo jets and A220 planes — the second, is primarily being used for regional connectivity under the UDAN scheme. A Jet Airways official confirmed that the company was “in final negotiations with lessors and OEMs for aircraft”.
Boeing Co. and Embraer SA are also in discussions and no final decision has been taken, the people said. Although at sticker prices any transaction would be north of USD 5 billion, discounts are common in such large purchases. While delivery slots are scarce, airlines can lease jets from lessors who buy in bulk.
The potential order comes as Jet Airways, once India’s top private airline, is preparing to return to the skies. Jet Airways got its flying license last month, marking the first time a carrier has been revived under the nation’s new bankruptcy laws.
The flying permit proved Jet Airways is ready to operate, signalling its transformation into a “new avatar with fresh funding, changed ownership, and new management,” according to a statement.
The airline recently invited former cabin crew to join it. Jet Airways is planning to come back with a hybrid of premium and low-cost services, Chief Executive Officer Sanjiv Kapoor said in April.
It will have a two-class configuration where business class passengers will be offered services including free meals, while economy class flyers will pay for meals and other services, he said.
Jet’s new owners — Dubai-based, Indian-origin businessman Murari Lal Jalan and Florian Fritsch, chairman of London-based financial advisory and alternative asset manager Kalrock Capital Management Ltd. — have pledged to make investments of as much as USD 120 million, Kapoor said.
“We are in final negotiations with lessors and OEMs for aircraft, and we will announce our aircraft choice and fleet plan once we have made a decision,” a representative for Jet Airways said Monday, June 27. “We are studying all possibilities to find the one that works best for us.”
Jet Airways will be the first Indian carrier to witness a revival in operations under the country’s insolvency and bankruptcy law. Flights (under the previous Naresh Goyal management) were grounded in April 2019 as the company went bankrupt.
Currently, the airline has six jets in its inventory – two Airbus A330-200, three Boeing 737-800, and one 737-900, with an average fleet age of 16 years; though an extensive expansion is required if it plans to rebuild its previous network.
Airbus’ narrowbody offerings have proven a firm choice for Indian airlines, notably low-cost carrier IndiGo, which operates the world’s largest fleet of A320neo family jets.
Almost 200 of the type are currently in operation with the airline, with 538 orders still outstanding. A range of A320 and A321s also serve in the fleets of Go First, Vistara, and flag-carrier Air India.
(With Inputs from Bloomberg)