Putting a lid on the controversy following its demand for a Central Vigilant Commission probe into Air-India's decision to buy aircraft from its competitor Boeing, Airbus Industrie on Tuesday said it was not going to revisit the past as its planes have emerged as a 'preferred choice' for airlines in India.
"What has happened has happened. Time has gone by. We are now focussed on the future. Airbus aircraft have emerged as a preferred choice for the airlines in India," Kiran Rao, senior vice president (sales) of the European aircraft manufacturer, said when specifically asked whether they still stood by their demand for an inquiry into the Air-India Board's decision to select an all-Boeing fleet.
Referring to the recently-concluded Paris Air Show, he said his company had bagged orders for supply of 320 aircraft worth $33.5 billion compared with 146 planes of US manufacturer Boeing worth $15.3 billion.
Indian carriers had led the aircraft buying spree with Air Deccan ordering 32 A-320s, Jet Airways 10 A-330s with buying option for another 10, Kingfisher 15 aircraft, including five double-decker A-380s and start-up airline InterGlobe placing orders for 100 A-320s, Rao said.
To another question on reports that Airbus was quoting lesser price for its planes for some foreign carriers than it did to Indian Airlines, Rao said: "We have responded to this and Indian Airlines is satisfied. We hope the deal will get the official approval in the next few weeks."
Indian Airlines' decision to acquire 43 all-Airbus planes is likely to come up before the Union Cabinet soon.
While Kingfisher has signed purchase agreements for their order, Jet Airways and IndoGo have signed letters of intent for their orders. "We would be signing purchase agreements with them in a couple of weeks," Rao and his successor, Nigel Harwood, said.
Rao said the Indian carriers together sought to buy 125 aircraft.
According to their forecast, India required as many as 368 aircraft by 2013 and 570 by 2023. These planes included at least 20 aircraft of large A-380 size, 371 twin-aisle planes and 123 small single-aisle ones.
To questions on the capability of Indian airports to accommodate the world's largest aircraft A-380, the Airbus official said their teams had conducted surveys at Delhi and Mumbai airports and made certain recommendations for 'minor changes'.
"The first A-380 will be flying into India hopefully by 2007," Rao said, adding that Airbus was getting 'overwhelming support' from the Indian government over the process to carry out the required modifications at the airports in the country.
Claiming that the A-380s could use the existing airports, he said it required lesser runway space for take off and landing compared with its competitor Boeing 777s. The A-380 required 9,800 feet for take-off as against 11,000 feet for 777. -- PTI
(Above) Kiran Rao, Airbus senior vice president marketing (centre), Nigel Harwood, vice president sales, India, (left) and David Velupillai regional press manager, communications, addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday to announce orders and commitments for 280 airliners worth around $33.5 billion at the Paris Air Show.
Photograph: Sondeep Shankar/ Saab Pictures