Vijay Mallya, chairman and chief executive officer of Kingfisher Airlines Limited was in Washington, DC on Monday to sign a contract worth $300 million with Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corporation company, for engines to power Kingfisher's new fleet of A 330 aircraft.
The agreement was signed during a ceremony at the US Department of Commerce with several senior Bush Administration officials in attendance, including Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Marion Blakely and industry leaders like the president of the Aerospace Industries Association John Douglas.
Mallya said that "after a very detailed analysis of all the engine offers for the A330, we decided that Pratt & Whitney gave us the best total solution and met all our technical requirements."
He said that Pratt & Whitney engines would power Kingfisher's fleet of A320/A319s, ATR72s and A330s "because of their ability to support our airline's vision to consistently deliver a safe value-based and enjoyable travel experience to all our guests."
The deal includes 10 PW4000-100" installed engines, one spare and an option for an additional 10 engines. Pratt & Whitney was also awarded a long-term exclusive fleet management program to overhaul and repair Kingfisher's PW4000 engines. The total transaction is valued at $300 million, plus an additional $200 million if all options are exercised.
Gutierrez said, "This agreement is another building block that will strengthen US-India relations, foster greater economic ties and enhance the ability of both companies to compete in the global economy."
Stephen N Finger, president, Pratt & Whitney, said, "We are pleased with the confidence that Kingfisher Airlines has placed in us and the trust that has quickly grown between our two companies."
He said that "it is a great day for Pratt & Whitney because our ultimate goal is always to delight our customers and to align ourselves with meeting their specific needs."
Finger said, "The strength of this particular relationship is apparent and it's not just for the latest order for as many as 21 engines for their new fleet of wide-bodied aircraft, but also for Kingfisher's past engine orders as well."
"We are proud to have Pratt & Whitney engines on your narrow-bodied fleet and Pratt-Whitney engines on your turboprop fleet, both of which Kingfisher already has in service," he added.
Finger said that "it means a lot for us as a leading supplier of jet engines and fleet maintenance services throughout the world to be associated with the fastest growing airline in the world," and turning to Mallya, added, "and as a customer I know it means a lot to you to have those Pratt-Whitney engines performing flawlessly, which they have been for the past 18 months that you have been in service."
"It seems to me there's a bright future between Kingfisher and Pratt-Whitney and we look forward to a long and successful partnership," he said.
Mallya said he has been "witness to huge growth in Indo-US trade, and when Kingfisher Airlines started and we had to map out our international strategy, I was very insistent from day one that 'let's forget about the rest of the world, let's only focus on connecting India and the United States non-stop' because I believed then and I believe now that India's largest trading partner will be the United States."
"Yes, we have a robust and growing economy, yet we'll depend more and more, and encourage more and more the high quality products and technological advancement provided by US corporations. One such example is our choice of Pratt & Whitney engines to power an European aircraft."
To loud applause he said, "I bought the Airbus aircraft, but as a result of Pratt & Whitney engines, the European aircraft is now more than 50 per cent American."
Mallya noted, "The Europeans tried very hard for the engine order, but despite their persuasive powers, our analysis showed that Pratt & Whitney engines, its performance, and the commitment of Pratt & Whitney behind their product - as I said it's a dependable engine - is what finally showed us the right path and said, 'provided the commercial terms are competitive enough, service of agreements are good enough, the commitment is there, we were very happy to go with Pratt & Whitney, which has a long history of producing one of the finest engines in the world and therefore we have no regrets."
Vijay Mallya, chairman & CEO, Kingfisher Airlines and Steve Finger, president, Pratt & Whitney at US Department of Commerce Washington, DC
Photograph: Paresh Gandhi