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Monday, May 23, 2005

The French playing dirty with Air India

Last week after considering proposals from both Franco-German subsidized Airbus and US based Boeing, state run Air India settled on buying 50 new Boeing aircraft. Boeing's next generation 737-800 suits Air India Express, AI's low cost spinoff carrier better than the A320, and AI's route structure which heavily focused on North American routes will be well served by the fuel efficient Boeing 787 dreamliner. The 787 will allow Air India to eliminate money losing intermediate stops in Europe. Currently, Air India's flights to the United States all stop in London or Frankfurt. AI also ordered additional Boeing 777s along with the 737-800 and the 787. Indian Airlines, the larger of the two state run carriers currently has an all Airbus fleet. Private airlines Jet Airways and Air Sahara fly 737s domestically, but have both ordered the A340 for European services. ( Jet Airways inaugural A340 flight to London heather is ironically enough today). Despite Airbus' success in the Indian market, they are suing Air India, and now the French Government has threatened the Indian Government.

Two years ago, the Economist printed an excellent expose on how Airbus won the bids to sell aircraft to Air India and Indian Airlines in the 1980s. It was a story of sex, lies and corruption up to the highest levels of Indian Government including the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Now, the French are playing dirty with India due to AI's decision. France is threatening to withhold support for India's bid to join the security council

It's no wonder Airbus has become the world's leader in commercial aircraft sales. Unlike Boeing, which is a private company which receives no assistance from the United States government in selling commercial aircraft, Airbus has the entire arsenal of French diplomacy or blackmail at its disposal. My opinion is that Airbus has gambled and lost with obscene A380, whose only appeal is to egoists like Richard Branson who want to have the biggest of everything. Boeing's 787 dreamliner is a smaller, more fuel efficient plane, whose range is actually larger than the A380 which is over twice its size. Air India's decision to order the 787 in order to connect the USa directly with India is the first sign that Airbus' product does not meet the demands of the current marketplace. Rather than adopting the product they produce, Airbus and France has resorted to blackmail. Shame on the French.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.