Indian start-up carrier Akasa Air has ordered 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at the recently held Dubai Airshow, marking a significant win for the manufacturer in an area of the single-aisle market currently heavily dominated by Airbus. The deal, which is valued at around $9 billion and includes the Boeing 737 MAX-8 and the higher capacity Boeing 737-8200, “speaks of the capacity these aircraft provide to the low-cost market in India,” said Darren Hulst, Vice President of Commercial Marketing for Boeing. The order is also a confidence booster for the MAX model following its return to service in early 2021 after accidents in 2019 and 2020 that led to its 18-month grounding. The aircraft was cleared to resume commercial operations by India’s air safety regulator in August 2021.
Akasa Air plans to begin operations in 2022 and will face tough competition from incumbent LCCs such as IndiGo. Boeing says “there is room in that market and Akasa Air is going to be a great partner going forward. With COVID-19 Pandemic largely in the rear-view mirror, there is going to be big demand from the Indian market.” Akasa Air which is part of the SNV Aviation group and backed by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, negotiated the order as it recently received clearance from the Ministry of Civil Aviation to launch the country’s latest “ultra low-cost airline”. The orders are new additions to Boeing’s backlog. Boeing hopes the agreement will mark the start of more orders for the South Asian market, which it predicts will require more than 2,200 new aircraft over the next 20 years.