India should come out with policy initiatives for local manufacturing of commercial planes as its aviation market is poised to become the third largest in the world, SpiceJet chief Ajay Singh said today. SpiceJet got a shout-out from US President Donald Trump, as he stood along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the White House Rose Garden, for orders placed with US aircraft maker Boeing. “I was pleased to learn about an Indian airlines’ recent order of 100 new American planes, one of the largest orders of its kind, which will support thousands and thousands of American jobs,” Trump said, without naming SpiceJet which has placed the USD 22 billion order.
Singh, who has piloted the no-frills airline out of troubled times, said the Indian government should come out with policy initiatives for manufacturing commercial planes inside the country. “It (making commercial planes in India) has not been given a thought to, at the moment,” Singh told PTI in an interview. When the government can talk to companies like Apple about assembly of phones, why not the plane manufacturers, he wondered and stressed that the government needs to start discussions with aircraft makers to understand what they need. Noting that India is projected to become the world’s third-largest commercial aviation market by 2020, Singh said Indian airlines have placed orders for more than 600 commercial planes.
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If the Indian government can push for making military planes — when the orders are for little over 120 – it is time that New Delhi thinks on those lines for commercial planes too under the ‘Make in India’ programme, Singh said. “They have been talking about it on the military side but on the commercial side, there has been nothing much,” the SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director said. India’s domestic aviation market is one of the fastest growing in the world and has been witnessing double-digit growth for more than two years. “I think we need to…put some pressure on our manufacturers, much as we are doing on the (fighter jets) transaction.
“To say that look, there is a huge market available for you in India, so why don’t you manufacture here? Perhaps, there can be some form of concessions given to people who might want to manufacture in India. Both tax concessions as well as creating a market opportunity for them,” Singh said. Mentioning the opportunities, he said: “We are growing 20-25 per cent. Despite this growth, there are only three percent of the Indians that fly, so obviously the potential is really immense. “Supposing we were to say that look, in the regional connectivity scheme, you will have to use aircraft which are manufactured in India. There is automatically a market which opens up.”
The ambitious regional connectivity scheme aims to connect unserved and under-served airports in the country as well as make flying more affordable. SpiceJet operates 364 average daily flights to 46 destinations, including 7 international ones. It has a fleet of 35 Boeing 737NG and 20 Bombardier Q-400 planes. SpiceJet had announced an order worth USD 22 billion with the US aircraft maker in January. The order is expected to create 1.32 lakh high-skilled jobs in America. Last month, the airline also signed an initial pact for 40 Boeing 737 MAX planes. This includes conversion of 20 737 MAX 8 airplanes from its existing order of 737 MAX 10s.
Responding to a question, Singh said SpiceJet order alone is creating thousands of jobs in the US. “We wanted to bring home the point that, as India does well, as our economy does well, as Indian aviation does well, companies like SpiceJet order more and more planes. “We are actually helping create a very large number of jobs in the US,” he said. Singh also said that India should be looked upon as not only a strategic partner in a military context, and in the context of two countries together fighting terrorism, but also as a strategic partner that helps create jobs in the US.a