Boeing Co and Airbus SE executives met with Tata Group executives in recent weeks to negotiate plane orders for Air India, according to two people familiar with the matter.
In a $2.4 billion equity-and-debt deal last month, Tata reclaimed ownership of state-run carrier Air India after nearly 70 years. While Air India has lucrative landing slots, the group confronts a difficult task in modernising the airline's old aircraft and improving its financials and service quality.
Air India has a mixed fleet of around 140 Airbus and Boeing airplanes, and executives estimate that refurbishing the aged planes will cost Tata more than $1 billion.
According to Bloomberg, Tata has begun exploratory talks with plane makers and lessors for planes such as Airbus A350-900s and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, citing people familiar with the matter.
The airline, with its maharajah mascot, was formerly renowned for its lavishly adorned planes and exceptional service championed by founder JRD Tata. Air India was created in 1932 and became a government-owned company in 1953.
However, when financial difficulties grew in the mid-2000s, Air India's reputation began to deteriorate. It operated widebody planes with worn-out business class seats and grounded several of its new 787s for spare parts.