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IA to buy 43 Airbus aircraft

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, March 27

THE Indian Airlines board, at its meeting here today, accepted the techno-economic report of its aircraft evaluation committee which recommended that the airline acquire 43 Airbus aircraft between 2003-04 and 2007-08.

The Rs 10,089-crore fleet renewal and expansion plan, which still has to be accepted by the Government before the final orders can be placed, will see IA acquiring 20 172-seater Airbus A-321 aircraft, 19 122-seater Airbus A-319 aircraft and four 145-seater Airbus A-320 aircraft.

In an effort to ensure transparency in the deal, the board, while recommending that the report be sent to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has also requested that its copies and all background papers be sent to the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) and the Central Vigilance Commissioner.

Sources maintained that the decision to go with Airbus for meeting the fleet requirements of the airline was based purely on economic considerations.

While the Boeing bid was said to have offered only one engine (CFM 56), Airbus was offering two engine choices - the V2500 besides the CFM 56 engine - which helped the airline get a better price per aircraft being acquired.

The sources indicated that the decision to call for a re-bid in December had helped the airline save between "$3-4 million per aircraft" being acquired.

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