Akasa: Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s new airline slated to order 70-80 Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft at Dubai Airshow

Earlier this year, we reported about the up and coming new airline Akasa, with Vinay Dube at the helm. Since then, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, the Indian big bull, picked up a 40% stake in the airline promoted by Vinay Dube, who was previously working with Delta, before heading to Jet Airways as CEO. His last assignment was with Go First (earlier GoAir), where he lasted only six months in 2020.

Akasa is intent on bringing the Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier Model to India as per current reports. I am not sure how this will work out for them, given the lack of secondary airports in India for now, and also the grey area in Indian flight rules where a certain minimum is expected to be offered to all passengers as a package rather than piecemeal.

Akasa planning to induct Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft

Given the aggressive timelines of Akasa, which earlier intended to start operations by early 2022, the airline needed to earn early slots for their aircraft. Per various accounts, the airline intended to induct between 70 to 100 aircraft within the first five years, to be a formidable force in Indian aviation. The airline was, hereby, considering inducting a fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. There are many reasons to do so.

Firstly, apart from SpiceJet, Vistara, Air India and Air India Express, Boeing does not have commercial airline customers in India, with only SpiceJet being a customer with a big outstanding order for now. All the other airlines have built their narrow body operations around the Airbus A320 family (including Go First, Vistara, IndiGo, AirAsia India and Air India).

The Boeing 737 MAX is clearly of no interest to SpiceJet for now, who might be using the pandemic as an opportunity to stay away from their big order. Even the ones delivered to them (13) have not come back in the skies two months after the 737 MAX grounding was lifted, because of apparent issues between the lessors and Spicejet.

As a consequence, Akasa’s big order may be welcomed by Boeing, both in terms of pricing discounts they may be willing to offer, as well as regulatory support that may be extended. The Indian market has evolved, and Sale and Leaseback Transactions are more common now than when IndiGo made its business plans and implemented them rigidly.

Now, Bloomberg is reporting that a deal is near and that Boeing may receive an order for 70-80 aircraft. The deal might be announced at the Dubai Airshow, which is next week and usually big on order flow.

Bottomline

The Akasa airline has started to prepare for an imminent launch and has already informed the regulator that it intends to bring in Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet. That should be good news for Boeing, who otherwise had largely seen only wide-body customers in India.

What do you think of Akasa’s fleet plans with the 737 MAX?


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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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Comments

  1. 737 is too late to the party. India it looks like A320 operators are sustaining in long run. Passengers perspective also A320 feels wider, ,taller and less noisy

  2. The only time I flew a Boeing 737 MAX was on the february 25 2019. It was a Jet Airways flight from Thiruvananthapuram to Mumbai. It was also my last flight with Jet Airways. The crew had not received a salary since the end of December 2018. Poor guys. And at this time I did not even know that.
    We did not crash after take-off.
    Less than 3 weeks after all the 737 MAX were grounded.
    And on April 17 2019, it was the end of Jet Airways.
    On my last flight, I was struck by the strange aspect of this aircraft with an old-fashioned design, running close to the ground with its engines too big for it, exaggeratedly raised and dented at the bottom to prevent it from touching the runway.
    Boeing should stop stubbornly hanging up modern reactors on a plane designed in the 1960s, it’s too risky.
    I will hesitate to fly on a plane of this type, even transformed an x-th time.

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