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Air India’s historic Boeing purchase is big news for the PNW

caption: The last Boeing 747 left the company’s widebody factory in advance of its delivery to Atlas Air in early 2023.
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The last Boeing 747 left the company’s widebody factory in advance of its delivery to Atlas Air in early 2023.
(Photo: Boeing)

Air India announced a historic purchase of more than 200 Boeing aircraft, and even President Biden is excited about the news. Here's a look at what this means for the Pacific Northwest.

In a press release, Biden said this historic purchase will support more than one million American jobs across 44 states, many of which will not require a four-year college degree. He said the deal reflects the strength of the U.S.–India economic partnership.

"Together with Prime Minister Modi, I look forward to deepening our partnership even further as we continue to confront shared global challenges—creating a more secure and prosperous future for all of our citizens," Biden said.

Air India will purchase a variety of 190 737 MAXs, including 737-8s and 737-10s, including 787 Dreamliner and 777X airplanes with options for 50 more jets.

In a statement, Boeing shared that the Indian airline carrier has ordered up to 290 Boeing jets.

The fleet of 737 MAXs will serve Air India’s domestic and international network, and the state of Washington stands to benefit greatly. Boeing plans to expand international routes with 20 787-9 Dreamliners and options for 20 more jets. Air India becomes the newest 777X customer with a selection of 10 777-9s.

“It's good to have big orders, again, especially for wide bodies, because they've been hit hardest by the pandemic," said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at AeroDynamic Advisory. "Air India is trying to reinvent itself under new management. And a lot of their business had gone to other people, particularly the Gulf states, super connectors from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar. We don't know how much of that they can call back. And therefore, we don't know how many of these aircraft they will actually need and when they will take them."

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Puget Sound region remains the location of Boeing's largest division, accounting for almost 60,000 of its 140,000 employees worldwide.

Last month, Boeing pleaded not guilty to a fraud charge in connection with two 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed almost 350 people.

Despite the ongoing lawsuit, Aboulafia said the issues with the MAX have been corrected. He said the major outstanding concerns facing Boeing and its leading competitor, Airbus, have to do with supply chains and production delays.

"So markets are strong, but output growth has been sluggish due to those production issues," he said.

Boeing currently has a backlog of more than 3,600 737s that still need to be made.

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