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Air-India to decide on aircraft deal today

Mumbai, April 11 (PTI): With both Boeing and Airbus pitching for the medium capacity long range (MCLR) aircraft order worth over $ 1.5 billion, the Air-India board would meet tomorrow to finalise its decision on buying 10 aircraft with options for seven more.

The much-awaited decision will be known when the five-member technical evaluation committee presents its report at the crucial board meet here to decide on the 250-seater plus MCLR aircraft, part of the over $ 2.5 billon fleet acquisition plan.

Air-India officials were tight-lipped about the possible outcome of the meeting.

The board had last year decided to acquire 17 MCLR aircraft with 10 options and appointed a five-member technical evaluation committee, under the chairmanship of operations director M. K. Hathi, to look into the financial and technical bids from both aircraft makers.

The order was scaled down to 10 aircraft with options for seven more in the face of the turbulent times experienced by the aviation industry since September 2001.

Indian Airlines chairman and managing director Sunil Arora has expressed his inability to attend the meeting as he is away in Indonesia to attend the Pata meet.

Both Boeing and Airbus had been vigorously pitching in for the order. The last acquisition made by Air-India was in August 1991 for six Boeing 747-400s.

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