Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed Akasa Air inks $9 billion order with Boeing for 72 jets
Akasa was co-founded by Jhunjhunwala and former Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube. Former Indigo president Aditya Ghosh is also on board of the airline
Akasa Air, the new airline backed by billionaire share investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, has placed orders for 72 Boeing 737 Max jets to build its fleet. The order is valued at $9 billion at list prices.
Akasa was co-founded by Jhunjhunwala and former Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube. Former Indigo president Aditya Ghosh is also on board of the airline.
“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 Vinay Dube, the CEO of Akasa Air, at the 2021 Dubai Air Show, where the deal was inked.
Akasa Air's order includes two variants from the 737 MAX family, the 737-8 and the high-capacity 737-8-200.
Two separate and deadly crashes involving the 737 Max had led to its grounding world over for over two years. India’s aviation regulator DGCA lifted the ban on the plan in August. US safety regulators had cleared the jet to fly again in November 2020.
SNV Aviation, the holding company of Akasa, received the no objection certificate from the civil aviation ministry in October and expects to begin flights in 2022. The aim is to launch an ultra-low-cost airline.
“India is one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world with an unparalleled potential. We are already witnessing a strong recovery in air travel, and we see decades of growth ahead of us. Akasa Air's core purpose is to help power India's growth engine and democratise air travel by creating an inclusive environment for all Indians regardless of their socio-economic or cultural backgrounds,” said Dube.
This order by Akasa will pave the way for US plane maker Boeing to expand its presence in the Indian market, which is otherwise dominated by French rival Airbus. Boeing’s market share had reduced sharply in the country after a key customer Jet Airways was taken to bankruptcy courts in 2019.
Currently, low cost carrier SpiceJet is the biggest and the only customer of Boeing for its 737 Max jets in the country. Indigo, the country’s largest airline, as well as Wadia’s owned GoFirst operate a fleet of Airbus aircraft. Air Asia India also operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft.