AviationAir India's mega deal for 470 planes challenges Gulf carriers, aiming to establish India as a preferred travel hub.

What’s behind Air India’s massive aircraft order?

Air India’s new Airbus fleet.
Air India’s new Airbus fleet.

Air India's record mega deal for 470 planes from Airbus and Boeing is being viewed as a direct challenge to the influence of the Gulf Carriers in India’s aviation market – and a move to establish India as a preferred connection hub for travel to the US and Europe.

"These orders directly synergise Air India's fleet with Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines – all part of Star Alliance, the world's largest global airline alliance," said Mark Martin, an aviation analyst, talking to BBC India.

"To me it looks like a big game plan to counter the dominance of Gulf carriers, for whom Star Alliance has been an arch nemesis.”

Indian travellers currently rely heavily on Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad and other Middle Eastern airlines for overseas connections to Europe, the US and Australia.

Air India is now led by CEO and managing director Campbell Wilson, the founding CEO of Singapore Airlines subsidiary, Scoot, who will have his hands full bringing Air India’s human resources, infrastructure and software systems up to speed ahead of the new aircraft deliveries.

And that’s even before India completes the construction of 80 new airports and improves the ability of its airports in Delhi and Mumbai to handle extra passenger loads.

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