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Tata to upgrade Air India's fleet, in talks with Boeing and Airbus

Air India has a mixed fleet of over 140 Airbus and Boeing planes, and industry executives estimate it would cost Tata more than $1 billion to refurbish the ageing aircraft.

Tata to upgrade Air India's fleet, in talks with Boeing and Airbus

Tata is making big moves to add more aircraft to Air India's fleet. Recently, Boeing Co and Airbus SE executives met with Tata Group executives in recent weeks to negotiate plane orders for Air India, according to sources.

Tata last month regained ownership of state-run carrier Air India after nearly 70 years in a $2.4 billion equity-and-debt deal. While the airline has lucrative landing slots, the group faces an uphill task to upgrade Air India`s ageing fleet and turn around its financials and service levels.

Air India has a mixed fleet of over 140 Airbus and Boeing planes, and industry executives estimate it would cost Tata more than $1 billion to refurbish the ageing aircraft.

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Airbus declined to comment on discussions it says it "may or may not be having with potential customers". Boeing said it does not comment on conversations it might have with its customers. Tata did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Tata had begun preliminary discussions with the planemakers and lessors for jets, including Airbus A350-900s and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, citing people familiar with the matter.

With its maharajah mascot, the airline was once renowned for its lavishly decorated planes and stellar service championed by founder JRD Tata. Air India was founded in 1932 and nationalised in 1953.

Since the mid-2000s, however, Air India`s reputation has declined as financial troubles mounted. It flew wide body planes with business class seats in poor repair and grounded some of its new 787s to use for spare parts.

Tata, the autos-to-steel conglomerate, operates two other airlines: Vistara, in a joint venture with Singapore Airlines, and AirAsia India, which it operates in partnership with AirAsia Group.

With inputs from Reuters

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