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Boeing defends A-I deal; blasts Airbus

May 04, 2005 15:50 IST

Dinesh A Keskar, senior vice president (sales and commercial airplanes), Boeing, strongly defended the deal between Air-India and Boeing for the purchase of 50 787 A, Dreamliner 777-200 Long Range and 777-3000 Extended Range aircraft.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Keskar claimed that no political pressure was used to clinch the deal against the French rival Airbus Industrie who was also in contention to bag the prestigious order.

Keskar said: "It is absolutely incredible that Airbus is questioning Air-India's evaluation (for purchase of the aircraft). There is no doubt about Air-India's evaluation process and tender norms. It can stand any scrutiny."

Talking to rediff.com, Keskar said that the entire deal was above board and his company was ready for any kind of scrutiny.

". . . if your product is not good enough, nobody would buy it. Our rivals are crying foul after they lost out in the bids," said Keskar.

"We lost the bids as well in the 1980s when Indian Airlines purchased A-320s, but we did not make allegations against our rivals. Now we have won the bid because we had offered a competitive price to Air-India that would help them save Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion)," he said in response to a question whether the deal was clinched because of pressure from the American government.

"Airbus people are now saying that the two bids should be referred to the Central Vigilance Commission for opinion. This is ridiculous. I am an outside company and who am I to tell the government of India or Air-India what they should do and what they should not do. If they had said the same thing in China, they would have been behind the bars," he said.

He said the CVC issue was "an internal matter of the government and the airline, who together can decide on this."

He said that the order given by the Air-India was for the purchase of 50 aircraft. "I am astounded by the claims of our rivals. Airbus was not even there when Boeing was doing business in India. Purchase of new fleet from Boeing would help Air-India save on fuel, landing and aviation charges because our aircraft is lighter than the ones offered by our rivals. We have more seating capacity. If you just look at the financial benefits by conducting objective calculations, all our airplanes that we are talking about have operating profits that far exceed those of their competitors," he said.

Asked when would the company start delivery of the aircraft, he said that this issue would be taken up only after the government of India gives its approval to the Air-India deal.

"There is no time line of delivery fixed as yet. We expect to deliver long-haul Boeing 787 by 2008. Until then we would give aircraft on lease to Air-India to open new routes. We are also planning to set up maintenance facilities in India so that Air-India does not have to send planes to other places for servicing. It would cost about $15 million and this money would be spent by Air-India," he said.

On the Air-India Board's decision to acquire 50 Boeing aircraft, he compared the Boeing 777-200 (Long Range), 777-300 (Extended Range) and 787-8 with their competitors A-340-500 and A-340-600, claiming the Boeing aircraft fleet would enable Air-India to earn $180 million worth of operating profits per year, depending on the routes the Indian carrier was planning to operate.

He claimed that 19 companies have placed orders of 237 aircraft so far in last four years, whereas Arbus has been able to sell just about 180 aircraft to their clients.

"What is important to note is that on long-haul aircraft you would be saving one million gallons of fuel per aircraft every year. Considering the fact that the aviation fuel prices are going up this saving would be enormous. What is more, you would have a fleet of airplanes that would serve Air-India for next 25 years ," he said.

Additional inputs: PTI

Onkar Singh in New Delhi
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