As the Indian carrier, which currently flies to 22 destinations in the country, plans to expand its domestic operations and launch international flights in the later part of this year, the two plane-makers are vying for a piece of the pie.
With the traditional rivalry between Airbus and Boeing heating up over proposed orders by Vistara, the American aircraft manufacturer today said its Dreamliner would be the “right” choice for the carrier owned by the Tatas and Singapore Airlines. As the Indian carrier, which currently flies to 22 destinations in the country, plans to expand its domestic operations and launch international flights in the later part of this year, the two plane-makers are vying for a piece of the pie. “Vistara is closely associated with SIA (Singapore Airlines) which operates the Boeing 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10 aircraft. They are fully aware of the benefits of these Dreamliner planes. Hence we feel this is the right aircraft for Vistara”, Dinesh Keskar, Senior Vice President Sales of Boeing, said here. Speaking to PTI on the sidelines of the ongoing annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), he said Vistara has announced they are going to launch international operations, so “the Dreamliner is the right airplane”.
Speculation is rife that Vistara plans to buy a mix of aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing. These may include single-aisle narrow-bodies from Airbus for domestic operations and six wide-body Dreamliner 787s for its global operations and another four of them on option. Asked about the latest developments in Air India which has failed to attract any expression of interest for its disinvestment, Keskar said the national carrier “should continue with its expansion plans”. He said aircraft types like the narrow-body Boeing 737-9s and Boeing 737 Max would be the correct planes for Air India and its low-cost arm Air India Express respectively.
Regarding the UDAN regional connectivity scheme and the demand for single-aisle aircraft, he said it would increase the demand for narrow-body planes, including variants of the Boeing 737 aircraft. To questions on the growth of the aviation demand in India, the top Boeing official said “commercial aerospace demand in India continues to grow at unprecedented rates… It has maintained a consistent growth rate of 20 per cent for a long time.” Keskar also said it was “good to see that the rupee value is stabilising and the oil prices also seem to be range-bound. All these factors augur well for the Indian aviation sector.”
Boeing had last August forecast a demand for 2,100 new airplanes in India, valued then at USD 290 billion, over the next 20 years. The company had then released the numbers as part of its annual Current Market Outlook for India, which Keskar said would be revised by next month. He said “the increasing number of passengers combined with a strong exchange rate, low fuel prices and high load factors bodes well for India’s aviation market, especially for the low-cost carriers.” Single-aisle airplanes, like the 737 Max family, will continue to account for the largest share of new deliveries, with airlines in India needing approximately 1,780 airplanes, he said. “The 737 Max is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history because customers throughout the world, including India, want its combination of performance, flexibility and efficiency,” he said.
As per the projections of August last year, the low-cost carriers continue to account for 60 per cent of the flights and hence the higher demand for single-aisle airplanes. Out of a total of 2,100 planes projected to be sold in India till 2036, 1,780 would be single-aisle ones. Boeing had then projected a worldwide demand for 41,030 new airplanes over the next 20 years, with Indian carriers accounting for more than 5.1 percent of the total global demand.