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IndiGo to buy up to 100 wide-body A350 planes; places firm order for 30 aircraft


The A350-900 planes ordered by IndiGo will be powered by Rolls Royce's Trent XWB engine. (Photo: Airbus webiste)

NEW DELHI (PTI): India’s largest airline IndiGo on Thursday announced placing a firm order for 30 A350-900 planes and the option to buy 70 more such aircraft, foraying into the wide-body aircraft segment nearly two decades after starting operations.

IndiGo, which started flying in 2006, currently has a fleet of more than 350 narrow-body planes and is expanding its presence overseas. The carrier is also operating two wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft leased from Turkish Airlines to Istanbul from Delhi and Mumbai.

The airline aims to double in size by 2030 with new domestic and international routes as well as destinations as the airline pursues soaring global ambitions to match India's economic growth potential.

The A350-900 planes will be powered by Rolls Royce's Trent XWB engine and the exact configuration of these aircraft, whose delivery is expected to start from 2027, will be decided later.

In a release, IndiGo said it is entering the "wide-body space with an order for 30 firm Airbus A350-900 aircraft".

IndiGo CEO Pieter Elbers termed it as a "historic moment".

The carrier, which has a domestic market share of more than 60 per cent, also has purchase rights for an additional 70 Airbus A350 family aircraft, "at its discretion, for possible future needs under certain conditions".

The pricing of the A350-900 aircraft was not available as Airbus has discontinued the practice of publishing the list price of its planes.

At present, Air India is the only Indian carrier operating A350. Among the domestic airlines, currently, Air India and Vistara have wide-body aircraft in their fleets while SpiceJet has leased some wide-body planes.

IndiGo's latest order also comes at a time when efforts are on to make India a global aviation hub.

In June last year, IndiGo placed the largest-ever single aircraft order by any airline for 500 aircraft with Airbus.

The outstanding order book of A320 family aircraft stands at almost 1,000 which are yet to be delivered well into the next decade. The order book comprises a mix of A320 neo, A321 neo and A321 XLR aircraft.

With A350 planes, IndiGo said it will be able to connect to the world from various Indian metros.

"The mission capability of this aircraft (A350) coupled with the efficiency of the Trent XWB engine will offer IndiGo unprecedented optionality as it embarks on the next stage of its wonderful journey of addressing the rapidly evolving needs of the Indian customer and our nation," the release said.

Reflecting its global ambitions, the airline on Thursday also said it is further defining its long-term future by strengthening its fleet with the introduction of wide-body aircraft to its fleet.

"Since inception in 2006, IndiGo has been successfully building its position and is now defining its future further on the path of becoming a global aviation player," it said.

The order also strengthens Airbus' presence in the wide-body aircraft segment, which has traditionally been dominated by Boeing.

"This new order will bring the strategic relationship between IndiGo and Airbus to an unprecedented level in terms of depth, breadth, and size. For the relationship between IndiGo and Rolls Royce, this marks the beginning of a new, long and fruitful relationship," the release said.

IndiGo has been facing problems with the Pratt & Whitney engines powering many of its existing planes and the woes have also forced the carrier to ground many aircraft.

"Today's historic moment marks a new chapter for IndiGo and will further shape the future of the airline and for the Indian aviation at the same time.

"For IndiGo, after successfully pioneering the Indian skies with an unprecedented journey, its fleet of 30 Airbus A350-900 aircraft will allow IndiGo to embark on its next phase of becoming one of the leading global aviation players," Elbers said.

With wide-body planes, IndiGo will be directly competing with Air India on long and ultra-long haul routes.

About IndiGo's order, Benoît de Saint-Exupéry, Airbus EVP Sales for Commercial Aircraft, said this is an exciting new chapter in its close partnership with the airline.

"With the A350 selection, IndiGo is now embarking on further opening the world to India. We will support the airline to take this pioneering and strategic step," he said in a statement.

Rolls-Royce in a statement said IndiGo has agreed to place an order for 60 Trent XWB-84 engines.

"India is an important market for Rolls-Royce. The future promises to be exciting, with significant infrastructure developments and further growth expected in air travel," Ewen McDonald, Chief Customer Officer of Rolls-Royce plc, said.

In the release, the airline mentioned that before the end of this decade, the Indian economy is expected to grow from being the world's 5th largest today to being the 3rd largest.

Specifically in aviation, the Indian Government has stated its mission to ensure that by 2030 India comes into her own on the world stage of aviation leadership by building cutting-edge infrastructure and developing the country into a global aviation hub, it added.

In an interview to PTI last month, Elbers said IndiGo aims to double in size by 2030 with new domestic and international routes as well as destinations as the airline pursues soaring global ambitions to match India's economic growth potential.

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