The billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-promoted airline Akasa on Tuesday placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 Max at the Dubai air show. The deliveries will begin next year, in line with the upcoming low-cost carrier’s plans to start flying by the summer of 2022.
This is the first order for Max by an Indian airline after the two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2019, their global grounding and subsequent return to service from late last year after carrying out required modifications to ensure safety.
Akasa Air CEO Vinay Dube said, “I believe the new 737 Max will support our aim of running a cost-efficient, reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly airline with the youngest fleet in the Indian skies. India is one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world… see decades of growth ahead of us. We aim to democratise air travel by creating an inclusive environment for all Indians regardless of their socio-economic or cultural backgrounds.”
Valued at about $9 billion at list price, this order for two versions of the Max (737-8 and high-capacity 737-8-200) is a boost for Boeing in India where the single-aisle market is dominated by rival Airbus. Indian carriers currently have 540 single-aisles, of which 451 — 83% — are of Airbus A320 family and 89 Boeing 737s. Airbus has over 700 A320 family planes to be delivered over the next 7-8 years, with a lion’s share going to IndiGo — the world’s biggest customer of A320 neo (new engine option) family of planes. There is a long waiting period for a new customer ordering this aircraft.