Huge: Indian Startup Akasa Air Orders 72 737 MAX Aircraft

New Indian low-cost startup airline Akasa Air has ordered 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The order was placed at the Dubai Air Show currently taking place in the UAE and is valued at nearly $9 billion at list price. Akasa intends to begin commercial service in the summer of 2022, and its choice of aircraft will help Boeing recover some of the narrow-body market in South Asia.

The 737 MAX has received a huge vote of confidence from Indian startup carrier Akasa AirPhoto: Simple Flying

Order includes the MAX 8-200

The news of today’s order was not entirely unexpected. Simple Flying reported a little under a week ago how industry sources predicted a significant MAX order would be disclosed during the Air Show taking place in Dubai. Making it official on Tuesday, Akasa Air signed for two variants of the 737 family – the MAX 8, and the larger capacity MAX 8-200. The exact numbers of each are yet to be announced.

“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 believe that the new 737 MAX airplane will support our aim of running not just a cost-efficient, reliable and affordable airline, but also an environmentally friendly company with the youngest and greenest fleet in the Indian skies,” said Akasa Air CEO Vinay Dube in a statement following the signing of the order.

Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing predicts the Indian market will require 2,200 new planes over the next two decades. Photo: Boeing

Boeing looking to the growth of South Asia

The South Asian commercial aviation market is expected to grow significantly over the coming decade. India’s expanding economy and disposable income will drive the need for over 2,200 planes over the next 20 years – at a value of over $320 billion. Meanwhile, India only recertified the 737 MAX for commercial operations in August this year, eight months after the US.

“We are honored that Akasa Air, an innovative airline focused on customer experience and environmental sustainability, has placed its trust in the 737 family to drive affordable passenger service in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation regions. The 737 MAX, with its optimized performance, flexibility, and capability, is the perfect airplane to establish Akasa Air in the Indian market and ensure it effectively grows its network,” said Stan Deal, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing 737 MAX
Akasa Air hopes to claim a share of the forthcoming South Asian market growth. Photo: Boeing

Aksa Air starting up

Akasa Air is backed by investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, who owns 40% of the company, and is headed by Vinay Dube, who is the former CEO of Jet Airways and GoAir. The carrier-to-be intends to launch revenue services by summer next year. It will take up the budget market competition with the likes of IndiGo, Go First, and SpiceJet. While the former two are devoted to the Airbus A320 family, the latter is team 737 all the way. Akasa Air’s MAX order may be significant, but it does not beat SpiceJet’s outstanding order of 133 Boeing 737 MAX 8s – adding to the 15 already in the fleet.

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