National carrier Air India might place an order for 10 superjumbo A380s this year. "A deal with Air India could come sometime this year," Airbus COO John Leahy has been quoted in reports from the ongoing Singapore Air Show.
The order could be around $3 billion, based on the list price of the aircraft. But, the negotiated price may vary.
Air India spokesperson Jitendra Bhargava refused to confirm the development. "We will talk about it when the plans have firmed up," he said.
According to Airbus sources close to the development, "Airbus has already made its presentation to Air India and also to the ministry. Whenever they are ready and instruct us to put in the bid, we will do so."
The national carrier is likely to deploy A380 on the "long-haul, high-density routes such as direct flights to New York and San Francisco and other US destinations", said Bhargava.
Air India has already placed an order for 68 aircraft with US manufacturer Boeing worth $11 billion. The A380 order will meet the traffic needs beyond 2012.
UB Group-promoted Kingfisher Airline is the only one in the country to have placed order for A380s. Kingfisher has placed five firm orders and five optional orders for the aircraft.
The first of Kingfisher's deliveries will come in early 2011. However, Naresh Goyal-promoted Jet Airways has stayed away from the A380 and Goyal had reiterated in the media that he did not see any value for an A380 type of aircraft in his fleet.
It is to be seen how the rival manufacturer, Boeing, perceives this demand surge for A380 compared with the largest aircraft in its stable, B787.
Asian airlines, as a whole, have shown a preference for A380s and have driven the order book for the superjumbo. Boeing has always pitted its B787 against the A380 on the premise that a trip cost on its aircraft will be 40 per cent lower than the A380's.