The Tata group-owned airline Air India has announced a new multi-year deal with U.S.-based software and technology provider Sabre Corporation, which will allow travel agents and corporations to access Air India's fares and seats via Sabre’s extensive global travel marketplace, Air India said today.

In addition to the distribution services, Air India said it is also using Sabre’s consultancy expertise to help determine optimal routes for its existing and new fleet.

“The Indian travel market is back, and it’s coming back strong,” said Nipun Aggarwal, chief commercial & transformation officer, Air India. The announcement comes three days after Air India announced an investment of $200 million to modernise its digital systems, and digital engineering services through its Vihaan.AI transformation programme.

Aggarwal said the partnership will support Air India's growth plans while paving the ground for its transition towards a more dynamic, merchandising-focused model to unlock the value of Air India’s products and services. "This will strengthen Air India’s position in domestic and international routes, and help us become more competitive on the global aviation stage. We are delighted to strengthen relationship with Sabre, and look forward to closer collaboration in the coming years.”

Air India, as part of its five-year transformation plan 'Vihaan.AI', is actively working towards expanding its fleet and network, revamping its customer proposition, and improving reliability in operations. "The expertise housed in Sabre’s Bengaluru capability centre will provide close proximity support for Air India’s innovation and transformation journey," said Air India.

Airlines that have to build a schedule for the next season usually rely on previous plans. However, clean-sheet scheduling gives carriers the flexibility to develop a more optimal schedule for operational efficiency, increased reliability, enhanced revenue, and traveller satisfaction. “Air India will gain substantial value by having access and reach to Sabre’s global network of travel agencies, in conjunction with benefiting from our route planning expertise,” said Roshan Mendis, chief commercial officer, Sabre Travel Solutions.

Air India recently placed the biggest aircraft order in aviation history for 540 aircraft from U.S. aircraft maker Boeing and French aerospace major Airbus. The Air India-Boeing pact comprises the order for fuel-efficient planes i.e. 190 737 MAX, 20 787 Dreamliner and 10 777X aeroplanes. The agreement includes options for 50 additional 737 MAXs and 20 787-9s.

The Air India-Airbus order comprises 250 aircraft deal, including 140 A320neo and 70 A321neo single-aisle aircraft as well as 34 A350-1000 and six A350-900 wide-body jets. On January 27 last year, the soft-to-software conglomerate took over the management and control of Air India from the government, after 69 years by making a bid of ₹18,000 crore. The airline is now handled by Tata Sons' wholly-owned, newly-formed subsidiary Talace.

As India’s economy expands at a rapid pace, the demand for travel is also expected to increase dramatically, prompting airlines to ramp up fleets. As per the latest report by aviation consulting and research firm CAPA India, Indian carriers will place orders for 1,500-1,700 aircraft over the next 24+ months because the Indian market, in the post-COVID era, is attracting global attention as arguably the most promising aviation market.

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