HYDERABAD: Despite being a young airline with a very nimble management team, Akasa Air has been able to secure a good deal with Boeing on an additional order of 737 MAX aircraft, said Priya Mehra, Chief Legal, Regulatory and Strategic Relations Officer at Akasa Air. Mehra played a key role in sealing the latest order.
Akasa Air on Thursday formally announced the purchase of 150 additional Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at the Wings India 2024 air show being held at Begumpet Airport, Hyderabad. The order is valued at about $20 billion based on list price. The airline’s earlier order comprises 76 aircraft.
“All I can say is that the teams have worked really hard…in the team sizes that we have had, the fact that we have been able to do this and given that nobody has been able to do it, is a feeling of great pride for each one of us more than anything…we feel good about the deal we have,” said Mehra in a roundtable meeting with journalists.
At the inaugural session of Wings India 2024, Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia highlighted that the growth of the airline since its start of commercial operation on August 7, 2022, has been fastest in global aviation history.
“India has been replete with stories of airlines shutting down. In the last ten years under the Prime Minister’s growth initiative, we have seen the birth of a new airline in India. An airline that has grown from two aircraft to twenty aircraft within a period of 12 months. An order of 76 aircraft of which 22 aircraft have landed in India and today another order of additional 150 aircraft,” Scindia.
The deal has also been secured at a time when Boeing is facing multiple issues related to the manufacturing of 737 MAX. Production of the aircraft has been impacted on account of quality defects by Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems, which produces the fuselage for the aircraft and as a result of the same, the manufacturer had to cut its delivery target to 375-400 planes in 2023 as against earlier target of 400-450 airplanes.
Additionally, earlier in January, the emergency exit door of a Boeing 737-9 MAX operated by Alaska Airlines separated from the aircraft shortly after take off, raising concerns about Boeing’s manufacturing practices. The latest manufacturing issue has been found to be specific to Boeing 737-9 MAX variants. Akasa Air’s new order comprises MAX variant of 737-10 and additional 737-8-200s.
Mehra highlighted that all contingencies have been looked into in order to ensure that Akasa Air is ring fenced in case of an adverse development. SpiceJet had secured compensation from Boeing when it had to ground its entire 737 MAX fleet a few years ago when faulty design of a flight control system led to two accidents wherein lives were lost.