Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed new airline Akasa Air has ordered 72 '737 Max' aircraft from US-based aerospace company Boeing to launch service in India, a statement said on Tuesday, November 16. "Akasa Air's order includes two variants from the 737 Max family, including the 737-8 and the high-capacity 737-8-200," the joint statement by Akasa Air and Boeing mentioned.
The order, valued at "nearly USD 9 billion at list prices," was signed at Dubai Air Show 2021 on Tuesday, it stated. The Ministry of Civil Aviation had last month given a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the operation of Akasa Air in India. Akasa Air is backed by Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, former IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh and former Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube.
"We are delighted to partner with Boeing for our first airplane order and thank them for their trust and confidence in Akasa Air's business plan and leadership team," Dube, who is now the CEO of Akasa Air, was quoted as saying in the statement.
He said the new 737 Max airplane will support the the carrier's aim of running not just a cost-efficient, reliable and affordable airline, but also an environmentally friendly company with the youngest and greenest fleet in the Indian skies. India's aviation regulator DGCA had on August 26 lifted the ban on Boeing 737 Max planes' commercial flight operations after almost two-and-half years.
All 737 Max planes were grounded in India by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on March 13, 2019, three days after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max plane near Addis Ababa, which had left 157 people, including four Indians, dead. European aircraft manufacturer Airbus dominates the Indian aviation market currently. As on October 15, there were 666 aircraft registered in India, 65 per cent of which were of Airbus, 21 per cent were of Boeing and the remaining were of other companies.
Currently, in India, only SpiceJet airline has 737 Max aircraft in its fleet. Akasa Air will be the second airline in India to operate this narrow-body aircraft. India's largest carrier IndiGo, which handles more than 50 per cent of domestic passenger traffic, operates Airbus's narrow body aircraft only.
India's growing economy and expanding middle class will fuel strong demand for commercial flights, driving the need for more than 2,200 new airplanes in South Asia valued at nearly USD 320 billion over the next 20 years, according to Boeing's 2021 Commercial Market Outlook forecast.