Billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwalla-backed domestic carrier Akasa Air has put in an order for 72 Boeing 737 MAX jets valued at 9 billion dollars, in a move that could help India's struggling travel industry and which could also give Boeing an oportunity to make up for losses by moving into one of the biggest markets in the world. The aircraft manufacturer has been struggling with the double blow of a Covid-19 hit travel industry as well as safety issues with the MAX airlines which forced the company to ground them two years ago.
"We are delighted to partner with Boeing for our first airplane order and thank them for their trust and confidence in Akasa Air's business plan and leadership team...We are already witnessing a strong recovery in air travel, and we see decades of growth ahead of us," Akasa Air Chief Executive Vinay Dube said at the Dubai airshow, where the order was announced.
Boeing has revealed that the order will be 'incremental'. Jhunjhunwalla has teamed up with former Indigo Air and Jet Airways executives to begin Akasa Air which will take off next year once clearances have been received from the civil aviation ministry, according to SNV Aviation which owns the company. The order includes two variants of the 737-8 aircraft and it's 200-seat higher capacity model. Currently, the only domestic carrier with MAX aircrafts is Spicejet.
The 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people, plunging Boeing into a financial crisis. India's air safety regulator in August allowed the country's airlines to fly the MAX jet to end its nearly two-and-a-half-years of regulatory grounding.