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India Invites Boeing, Airbus Bids

July 31, 2000

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Jolted by the crash of an aging jet, domestic carrier Indian Airlines has invited bids from Boeing and Airbus Industrie in an ambitious $2.2 billion plan to buy nearly 40 new planes, officials said Monday.

State-run Indian Airlines is considering the purchase of 15 to 17 planes with 100 seats, seven or eight 150-seaters and 15 or 16 planes with larger capacity, Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The July 17 crash of a 20-year-old jet owned by Alliance Air, an Indian Airlines subsidiary, hastened the purchase of the new planes. Fifty-six people were killed when the plane plummeted into a housing complex.

Hundreds of older jets are flown by airlines worldwide but critics accused Indian Airlines of slack safety management and poor maintenance. The plane that crashed was to be phased out in two years.

Days after the disaster, the government said it would speed up the modernization of the airline.

An airline spokesman said the bids would be opened by the end of August, after which a selection panel would consider the offers.

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