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WingsIndia 2024: As aviation booms and fliers multiply, Akasa Air also to acquire 150 more Boeings

WingsIndia 2024: As aviation booms and fliers multiply, Akasa Air also to acquire 150 more Boeings

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Virendra Pandit 

 

New Delhi: As the Indian civil aviation industry booms—it is projected to see the number of fliers multiplying from 153 million now 300 million by 2030—Akasa Air became the third airline to order aircraft in bulk: it will acquire 150 Boeing 737 Max aircraft for global expansion.

Put together, the country’s three leading carriers—Air India, IndiGo, and Akasa Air—have put in purchase orders for 1,120 aircraft in less than a year as they expand their presence in the country’s fast-growing civil aviation market.

In the latest acquisition, the less than two-year-old Akasa Air will buy Boeing 737 Max 10 and 737 Max 8-200 jets. The latest order provides the airline with a steady aircraft delivery stream through 2032, cementing the company’s domestic and international expansion plans.

With this milestone announcement, the first of its kind made at an airshow in India, Akasa Air became the only Indian airline in the history of civil aviation to reach an order book of over 200 aircraft within 17 months of commencing operations.

Last year, Air India and IndiGo together placed orders for 970 planes with Boeing and Airbus.

In February 2023, Tata Group-owned Air India ordered 470 planes — 250 from Airbus and 220 from Boeing. In June, India’s largest airline IndiGo announced an order with Airbus to buy 500 narrow-body planes.

Additionally, Indian carriers are also ready to take deliveries of the planes they had ordered earlier. IndiGo alone has an order book of nearly 1,000 planes.

The now-grounded airline Go First, which has not been flying since May 2023, had also ordered 72 aircraft.

Together, domestic carriers, whose current fleet size is 730, are likely to take deliveries of over 1,600 planes in the coming years, the media reported on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Union Civil Aviation and Steel Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the fleet size of Indian carriers will reach 1,500 to 2,000 by 2030.

Inaugurating WingsIndia 2024, the four-day flagship event, Asia’s largest in this sector, organized by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, and FICCI in Hyderabad on Thursday, he said India has been “a shining star in the world of civil aviation.’’

The daily domestic passenger traffic reached 4.50 lakh in April-March last year and swelled to 4.67 lakh during November-December 2023. The domestic cargo traffic also grew by 60 percent in the last 15 years while the growth was 53 percent in international cargo, he added.

The domestic market has grown at a CAGR of 15.3 percent and international travel has grown by 6.1 percent in the last 10 years. India is the third largest domestic market and the seventh in international civil aviation. “We will still be one of the under-penetrated markets among the top 20 in the world,” Scindia said.

The journey of the aviation industry from Amritkal to Shatabdikal (from now until 2047) will be dotted by infrastructure development and innovations apart from increased connectivity,” the minister said.

The Centre has been preparing to tap the potential in civil aviation through a slew of measures and the civil aviation industry will be able to fully support the USD 20 trillion economy of the county by 2047, he added.

The Ude Deshka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) 5.3 Scheme, launched formally on Thursday for enhanced regional connectivity, will provide a special bidding ground for airliners for operations. “Since its first launch in 2017, the UDAN scheme transformed the aviation sector in the country,” the minister said.

Under this scheme, 76 new airports, waterdromes, and helipads were set up and 517 new routes were made operational providing last-mile connectivity through small flights and helicopters as part of the Centre’s priority to reach remote areas in the North East and Jammu and Kashmir. A special focus was also on women and about 1,000 women drone pilots will be trained, Scindia said.

Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation General V K Singh (Retd) said this industry, with its current pace of growth in airport infrastructure and traffic, among others, will be  “lucrative“ to the world and will contribute to both national and global GDP growth.

Founder and CEO of Akasa Air Vinay Dube said, “This large and historic aircraft order puts Akasa on a path of becoming one of the top 30 leading airlines in the world, by the turn of this decade. Akasa’s remarkable growth testifies to India’s sheer promise as an aviation market, and we are thrilled to be a part of this journey.”

In 2021, Akasa Air placed its initial order of 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, followed up with 4 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in June 2023. This new deal in January 2024 takes the airline’s order book to an impressive 226 aircraft. Akasa Air currently operates a fleet of 22 aircraft and will receive deliveries of 204 aircraft over the next eight years.

 

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