Photo: BoeingReading Time: 2 minutes
The new Indian startup airline, Akasa, backed by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, is in advanced discussions with Boeing Co. to purchase up to 100 Boeing 737 MAX jets, according to people familiar with the matte, informs Bloomberg.
The deal could give the U.S. plane manufacturer a crucial breakthrough in a major market dominated by Airbus SE.
The Akasa Airline has also held discussions with Airbus for its best-selling A320neo jets, but that model isn’t available for delivery until several years down the track.
Akasa ailines, which is seeking initial approval from India’s aviation ministry, plans to use sale-and-leaseback deals to finance the planes. This would allow the new airline to receive cash from leasing firms as it takes possession of the jets.
The startup airline is looking at operating a fleet of 70 aircraft in four years, the businessman Jhunjhunwala said in a Bloomberg Television interview last month. An order for 70 units of 737 Max-8 jets — the most popular model — would be valued at $8.5 billion at sticker prices.
A representative for Boeing said it always seeks opportunities and consistently talks with current and potential customers about how it can best support their fleet and operational needs. A representative for Jhunjhunwala didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The deal would give Boeing a firmer position in India, until recently the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, where it has outstanding Max orders from only one carrier, SpiceJet Ltd. Jet Airways India Ltd., the only other Indian customer for the 737 Max, collapsed under a pile of debt in 2019, leaving the world’s third-largest domestic market dominated by hundreds of Airbus planes.
The discussions are for a deal of as many as 80 aircraft with deliveries starting as soon as within seven months, one of the people said. Any announcement will depend on Akasa getting regulatory approvals to formally start the airline business.