(A-I) has taken "strong exceptions" to the remarks
made by Airbus Industrie's Vice President Nigel
Harwood, who had accused the carrier of preferring
Boeing to Airbus aircraft while placing orders for
50 aircraft with deliveries slated by 2007-08. A-I
Chairman and Managing Director V Thulasidas in a
hurriedly called press conference in Mumbai
refuted all but one allegation. Sajeev G
Nair provides a
first person account of A-Iís defense on the
allegations made by Airbus Industrie.
WHAT AIRBUS SAYS
WHAT AIR INDIA SAYS
Air-India has committed mistakes on evaluation
process, while placing orders for 50 aircraft
worth over $6 billion which went to Boeing rather
than to Airbus. There were reasons other than the
merit of the aircraft, including "political,
geo-political or even worse" issues.
We take strong exceptions to these allegations,
which are completely baseless and uncalled for.
A-I is a reputed and well-established
international carrier, with adequate experience
and exposure to evaluate aircraft and decide what
is best of it.
The decision to acquire the aircraft from Boeing
and not from Airbus was taken into consideration
after A-I's techno-economic committee had
evaluated it and decided the Boeing deal was best
at the present moment.
A-I's decisions were not influenced any political,
geo-political or even worse issues, but was
finalised for commercial and economic reasons.
A-I prefers Boeing to Airbus and the
decision to go for Boeing, in spite of Airbus
giving the best proposal points fingers at "other
factors at work".
Air India values the contribution to the carrier
by Airbus and there was no preferential treatment
towards Boeing. At this point of time, we thought
that Boeing aircraft suited our business plan,
rather its France-based competitor.
Moreover, A-I's total fleet comprises more of
Airbus planes than Boeing. Of the total 43
aircraft, with the planned acquisitions to be
completed in June-July, over half of the carrier's
aircraft would be of Airbus. The company is taking
an additional three A 310s on dry lease in the
next couple of months.
A-I is the largest operator of Airbus fleets in
Airbus has bigger aircraft like the A 380,
compared to the ones that were being offered by
At present, A-I is not interested in A-380, the
huge plane from Airbus, but this doesn't mean that
we would not go for it at a later stage. A-I needs
only small planes at the moment, mainly A 310s or
A 320s, but does not need huge aircraft like A
380. The carrier needs more number of medium-sized
aircraft for its operations, rather than huge
aircraft like A 380. With the market growing and
more Indians travelling to US and Gulf, we may
think of introducing the A 380s among our fleet.
Airbus has also offered A 350, which was better
than Boeing aircraft in similar range.
Airbus had not offered the A 350 when the
quotation in reply to the RFP was submitted. The A
350 never came into picture even till the last day
of closure of the RFP (December 10, 2004) nor till
the date of the board finalising the plans, which
was on December 24, 2004. However, exactly after a
month, on January 24, 2005, Airbus came with a new
proposal including the A 350, which was not
considered. A-I could not consider the aircraft as
all the formalities of the RFP had been closed by
that time and the evaluation process was well
A-I had sought a nine abreast seating arrangement
(nine in a line) in its Request for Proposal (RFP)
with Boeing, while that given to Airbus had only
sought an eight abreast seating capacity. This had
also resulted in Airbus losing the contract.
A-I did not seek a nine abreast seating
arrangement while ordering for the flights. The
RFP was same to both the aircraft manufacturers
and abreast seating was not mentioned in the
proposal. However, specifications on seat pitch
and width and aisle width were mentioned.
Boeing had deferred on delivery schedule, even
though the orders went to the company.
This one allegation is true, however the untold
part is that it is true that both the aircraft
manufacturers had deferred on the delivery
schedule. The delivery of first three A 340-500
and a A 340-600 long-range was not in conformity
of schedules, according to which the aircraft were
to be delivered between 2007 to 2008 (March),
while Boeing was to delay delivery of a 787 by six
months. However, this had not affected the
The evaluation process of by A-I was unfair to
Airbus, while it gave undue advantage to Boeing.
If the evaluation process was unfair, it was
unfair to both as A-I's techno-economic committee
had evaluated aircraft of both the companies using
the same yardstick. This is an unfair allegation
from the part of Airbus.
With a controversy erupting Airbus had suggested
for a probe by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
The issue was referred to CVC before the demand by
Airbus, while A-I board has also referred the
issue to Civil Aviation Ministry and Comptroller
and Auditor General (CAG).