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Boeing in talks with India airlines on 737 MAX jet

March 13, 2014 16:39 IST

Boeing in talks with India airlines on 737 MAX jet

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Devidutta Tripathy in Hyderabad

Boeing Co is in talks with airlines Jet Airways and Air India about the sale of its 737 MAX jets, a Boeing executive told Reuters on Thursday, as the aircraft manufacturer raised its forecast for demand in India.

Boeing now expects India's commercial aviation fleet to grow more than five times in size over the next 20 years, with demand for 1,600 new airplanes valued at $205 billion.

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Image: Boeing jets.
Photographs: Courtesy, Boeing

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Boeing in talks with India airlines on 737 MAX jet

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This is an increase from a Boeing forecast last year of 1,450 new airplanes worth $175 billion.

Rival Airbus said on Thursday India needs 1,290 aircraft -- 73 per cent of them additions -- worth more than $190 billion in the next 20 years.

Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president sales for Asia Pacific at Boeing, told Reuters that the 737 MAX planes are 14 per cent more fuel efficient compared with its 737 planes, making them particularly attractive to Indian carriers hurt by high fuel costs.

Budget airline SpiceJet announced a deal with Boeing on Wednesday to buy 42 Boeing MAX jets in an order worth $4.4 billion.

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Image: A Boeing Jet cockpit.
Photographs: Darrell Byers/Reuters

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Boeing in talks with India airlines on 737 MAX jet

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"Yes, the Indian market right now is going through its difficulties. . . Today everybody is selling below cost.

“And that means they are losing money," Keskar said in an interview on the sidelines of the Hyderabad airshow.

"I think India will come out of it. We do see some improvements that are coming up."

Keskar said talks with state-owned Air India over sales of the MAX jets were not as "intensely involved" as they were with Jet Airways.

Jet Airways and Air India did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Indian airlines are struggling under the weight of costly fuel and a weak rupee even though India is one of the world's fastest growing aviation markets, with air passenger traffic forecast to triple to more than 450 million by 2020 as incomes rise and more people start to fly.

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Image: Interiors of a Boeing Jet.
Photographs: Edgar Su/Reuters

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IndiGo is currently the only one among India's five national carriers that is making a profit.

Airlines hope that upgrades to their fleet and new investments will revive their fortunes.

Boeing also expects to see demand for its 777X planes, with Singapore Airlines, Philippines Airlines, Thai Airways, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia among those who could be interested, Keskar added.

(Additional reporting and writing by Tommy Wilkes)


Image: A Boeing 737 manufacturing unit.
Photographs: David Ryder/Reuters

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