Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s Akasa Air signs US$9 bn deal with Boeing for 72 737 Max planes

Business magnate, stock trader and investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed new airline Akasa Air has ordered 72 Boeing 737 Max airplanes to launch services.

“The new Indian carrier’s order is valued at nearly US$9 billion, and includes 737-8 and the high-capacity 737-8-200,” revealed an official Boeing press communique.

The 737 MAX airplanes reduce fuel use and carbon emissions by at least 14 percent compared to airplanes it replaces, Boeing has said.

The order by Akasa includes two variants, the 737-8 and the high-capacity 737-8-200, both companies informed.

“We are honoured 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,” said Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO.

“The 737 MAX, with its optimised performance, flexibility and capability, is the perfect airplane to establish Akasa Air in the Indian market and ensure it effectively grows its network.”

“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,” said Vinay Dube, CEO, Akasa Air.

“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.”

Reportedly, the order by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed airline comes months after India’s air safety regulator allowed the country’s airlines to fly the MAX jet, ending its nearly two and a half years of regulatory grounding after two fatal crashes within five months killed 346 people.

Reuters reported in September that Boeing was close to winning an order for some 70 to 100 737 MAX jets from Akasa, pending separate talks on a long-term engine service deal.

Jhunjhunwala, known as “India’s Warren Buffett”, has teamed up with former chief executives of IndiGo, the country’s biggest carrier, and Jet Airways to tap into demand for domestic air travel, which is nearing pre-pandemic levels as the country recovers from a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

The low-cost airline received initial clearance from the civil aviation ministry to start operations in October and is expected to begin flying next year.

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