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AI Express among 3 target operators for new 737 MAX: Boeing

October 30, 2013 19:54 IST

Air India Express along with SpiceJet and Jet Airways is one of the three main targets for Boeing in the country as it promotes its new 737 MAX aircraft, which is scheduled to enter commercial operations in 2017.

"SpiceJet, Jet Airways and Air India Express are the three target customers for the new Boeing 737 MAX planes, which already have 737 engines.

"We think this airplane can further enhance (these airlines') profitability," said Dinesh Keskar, Senior Vice-President (Sales, Asia Pacific and India) of Boeing.

The 737 MAX is the latest aircraft from the US-based manufacturer. It comes with winglets that helps reduce fuel consumption by an additional 1.5 per cent.

The plane, which the company claims would have more range, 14 per cent less fuel consumption and 40 per cent more noise reduction, has already completed its "firm configuration" phase this year.

The design phase will begin next year and the first aircraft would be ready by 2015.

The 737 MAX, Boeing's answer to rival Airbus's A-320 New Engine Option or NEO, is scheduled to make its first flight in 2016 and deliveries to the first customers are expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Addressing a press conference, Keskar said that Boeing was feeling bullish about the prospects of the Indian market.

"The forecast that Boeing made about India requiring about 1,450 aircraft over the next 20 years stands.

"It does not change because of difficulties in the market," Keskar said, adding that Boeing had 8,098 firm orders from 134 airlines and leasing companies for the plane.

Asked about the status of the maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at Nagpur, which is coming up in collaboration with Air India, Keskar said it would become operational by the second quarter of next year.

"The facility will become operational by the second quarter of 2014," he said. Larsen and Toubro (L&T), the contractor for the project, is likely to hand over the facility by the end of this quarter or the first quarter of next year, he added.

Upon commissioning of the equipment and machinery for the facility and after having tested the same, the MRO would become operational following a DGCA clearance.

The $100 million project is to be set up as part of an agreement between the national carrier and Boeing after an order for 737s and 787s Dreamliners was placed by Air India in January 2006.

The facility would also be offering its services to other carriers operating Boeing planes, like Jet Airways and SpiceJet.

Spread over 50 acres and located next to Nagpur airport, the MRO would have two hangars and be equipped to carry out maintenance and overhauling services for around 300 aircraft annually.

Meanwhile, according to the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation, SpiceJet was last year in advanced discussions to order 30-40 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. 

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