India's Akasa Air orders 72 Boeing 737 MAX jets

·3-min read
This picture taken on November 15, 2021 shows the Boeing stand at the 2021 Dubai Airshow in the Gulf emirate (AFP/Giuseppe CACACE)

Boeing announced its first big order at a major air show in Dubai on Tuesday, saying India's new carrier Akasa Air had ordered 72 of its 737 MAX aircraft.

The world's dominant aerospace companies are seeking new business at the industry's first major show since the Covid pandemic started, an event which runs until Thursday.

US aerospace giant Boeing saved face a day after its European rival Airbus stole the show with a mega-order for 255 single-aisle A321 aircraft valued at more than $33 billion at list prices.

As the industry slowly recovers from a Covid-induced downturn, Airbus has returned to profit and delivered 460 aircraft in the year's first 10 months, while Boeing has remained in the red and supplied just 268 planes.

"The new Indian carrier has ordered (72) 737 MAX airplanes to build its fleet," Boeing said in a statement, adding that the order was valued at nearly $9 billion at list prices.

Akasa Air has ordered two models from the 737 MAX family, the 737-8 and the high-capacity 737-8-200.

The airline's CEO Vinay Dube said "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".

"India is one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world with an unparallelled potential. We are already witnessing a strong recovery in air travel, and we see decades of growth ahead of us."

- More orders -

Boeing said Sunday it had signed a contract with an Icelandic company to convert 11 737-800BCFs -- the previous generation of the MAX series -- into cargo planes. It did not disclose the value of the contract.

Boeing's 737 MAX returned to the skies last year after the entire fleet was grounded for 20 months following two crashes -- in Ethiopia and Indonesia -- that left 346 people dead.

"We are honoured that Akasa Air... has placed its trust in the 737 family to drive affordable passenger service in one of the world's fastest-growing aviation regions," said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, according to the statement.

Almost 370 of the planes remain in inventory and Boeing chief executive David Calhoun has said that it will take two years to sell them all.

The 737 MAX has also yet to be re-certified in China, a major market for aircraft makers. Boeing's production plans will depend on access to the Chinese market, Calhoun says.

Boeing also announced on Tuesday that it signed a contract with Air Tanzania for a number of planes -- including a 787 Dreamliner, a 767 freighter and two 737 MAX jets -- valued at more than $726 million at list prices.

And in another deal for approximately $704 million at list prices, Dubai-based aviation giant Emirates ordered two of Boeing's 777 freighters.

Sky One FZE, an Emirati leasing company, is set to acquire three 777s.

Meanwhile, Airbus on Tuesday said it signed a memorandum of understanding with Kuwait's low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways for 28 new aircraft.

The deal is valued in excess of $3.3 billion at list prices while the actual deal remains confidential, Jazeera said in a statement.

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