Indian budget airline SpiceJet is poised to order at least 92 Boeing 737 jetliners, as the carrier plots rapid expansion in the world’s fastest growing aerospace market.
The transaction, which would more than double SpiceJet’s 49-plane fleet, may be closed within weeks after lengthy talks that pitted Boeing against rival Airbus Group SE, people with direct knowledge of the decision said.
The deal includes firm orders for at least 50 of Boeing’s 737 Max, and renegotiated terms for 42 of the single-aisle jets that SpiceJet originally ordered in 2014, said the people, who asked not be identified India company news. The 92 Max jets would be valued at about $10.1 billion at current list prices, before the discounts that are customary for large purchases.
The order would be a record for SpiceJet, which was forced to shut down operations for a day two years ago after it ran out of money, prompting co-founder Ajay Singh to bail out the low-cost carrier. The airline may boost the total if final talks yield bigger discounts and favourable maintenance contracts, one of the people said.
Boeing would gain a stronger toehold in India, where Airbus dominates narrow-body fleets, after a string of order victories. IndiGo, Go Airlines India and the local unit of AirAsia Bhd all fly variants of the Airbus A320. “We expect to complete these negotiations and place the order this financial year,” the airline said in an e-mailed statement. A Boeing spokesman declined to comment.
The order would help SpiceJet compete with market leader IndiGo, which has ordered hundreds of Airbus jets to tap surging air-travel demand from a fast-growing middle class. While IndiGo controls about 42 per cent of a market that has seen local carriers almost double to 11 in the past four years, SpiceJet’s share is about 13 per cent.
SpiceJet shares closed up 0.63 percent at Rs 63.55 on Friday, after jumping to their the highest intra-day level since November 30. Boeing shares were little changed at $158.71 in New York on Thursday. India is crucial for Boeing and Airbus, and both offered aggressive discounts to SpiceJet, Bloomberg News reported in July.
Boeing, whose jets dominate the current SpiceJet fleet, has the advantage of close financial ties. As the carrier’s financial condition worsened, Boeing provided assistance with payments to help it cope with the situation. That earlier deal, which is still on the manufacturer’s books, will now become a part of the new order, the people said. SpiceJet operates a fleet of 32 Boeing 737 jets and 17 Bombardier Q400 turboprops, according to the company.