Air India contemplates Boeing 737 Max for no-frills subsidiary

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Published: August 14, 2015 1:10:03 AM

The economy and potential for air travel growth — both leisure and business — continue to remain strong. The market is competitive and airlines are adapting with added capacity, moderate pricing discipline and new business models, such as the growing number of LCCs

Global aircraft manufacturer Boeing expects Indian airlines to place order for 1,740 new aircraft worth $240 billion over the next two decades. The largest demand from airlines will be for single-aisle aircraft such as the next generation 737 and the new 737 Max while twin-aisle airplane demand is also expected to continue, the company’s senior vice-president of sales (Asia Pacific and India), Dinesh Keskar told Rhik Kundu. Excerpts:

What makes you so confident of the huge capacity increment of Indian airlines in next two decades, considering most airlines are making losses?

Indian economy and the country’s potential for air travel growth, both for leisure and business, continue to be strong. The market is highly competitive and airlines are adapting with added capacity, moderate pricing discipline and new business models, such as the growing number of low cost carriers (LCCs).

What is the status of the $4.4-billion 42 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft order placed by SpiceJet in 2014?

The orders are very much in place. The orders are firm and contractual in nature and there’s no question of them decreasing the order. We will start delivering the planes from 2018.

There’s an uncertainty over Jet Airway’s Boeing 787 (Dreamliners) orders. Is it still in place?

Jet Airways has placed an order for 10 Boeing 787-9 aircraft with Boeing. The order will be delivered in time.

However, we can’t tell you the delivery dates since this information is sensitive for the airline.

Air India had placed order for 68 aircraft from Boeing worth about $11 billion in 2005. How many aircraft deliveries are pending?

We have delivered all the 18 737-800 and eight 777-200-LR aircraft to Air India. We have also delivered 21 of the 27 Dreamliners (B 787-8) aircraft to the airline while the remaining aircraft are expected to be inducted into the fleet in the coming years. The deliveries of these aircraft will be on time as negotiated with the airline. We have also delivered 12 of 15 777-300-ER aircraft. However, the airline is contemplating on converting the remaining aircraft order to 737 MAX, which will be used by Air India Express. In that case the deliveries of the remaining planes will take some more time, probably a couple of more years.

Air India was contemplating an upgrade the remaining six Dreamliners deliveries — from 787-8 to 787-9. However, the move didn’t materialise. Why?

The airline looked at upgrading the order after we showed them the benefits of the new aircraft. But they decided not to go for it for several reasons. They needed a lot of permissions and approvals to get the upgrade done, which was finally shelved — Air India can best answer the reason. From our side we gave them all the reasons why 787-9 is a better airplane.

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