(Corrects Airbus forecast to 20 years, not 29, in third
* Boeing exec says in talks with Jet Airways, Air India
* Forecasts rise in demand in India for 1,600 new planes
* SpiceJet announced $4.4 bln deal with Boeing on Wednesday
By Devidutta Tripathy
HYDERABAD, March 13 (Reuters) - Boeing Co is in talks
with Indian airlines Jet Airways and Air India
about the sale of its 737 MAX jets, a Boeing executive told
Reuters on Thursday, as the aircraft manufacturer raised its
forecast for demand in India.
Boeing now expects India's commercial aviation fleet to grow
more than five times in size over the next 20 years, with demand
for 1,600 new airplanes valued at $205 billion.
This is an increase from a Boeing forecast last year of
1,450 new airplanes worth $175 billion. Rival Airbus
said on Thursday India needs 1,290 aircraft - 73 percent of them
additions - worth more than $190 billion in the next 20 years.
Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president sales for Asia Pacific
at Boeing, told Reuters that the 737 MAX planes are 14 percent
more fuel efficient compared with its 737 planes, making them
particularly attractive to Indian carriers hurt by high fuel
Budget airline SpiceJet announced a deal with
Boeing on Wednesday to buy 42 Boeing MAX jets in an order worth
"Yes, the Indian market right now is going through its
difficulties... Today everybody is selling below cost. And that
means they are losing money," Keskar said in an interview on the
sidelines of the Hyderabad airshow.
"I think India will come out of it. We do see some
improvements that are coming up."
Keskar said talks with state-owned Air India over sales of
the MAX jets were not as "intensely involved" as they were with
Jet Airways and Air India did not immediately respond to
requests for comment.
Indian airlines are struggling under the weight of costly
fuel and a weak rupee even though India is one of the world's
fastest growing aviation markets, with air passenger traffic
forecast to triple to more than 450 million by 2020 as incomes
rise and more people start to fly.
IndiGo is currently the only one among India's five national
carriers that is making a profit. Airlines hope that upgrades to
their fleet and new investments will revive their fortunes.
Boeing also expects to see demand for its 777X planes, with
Singapore Airlines, Philippines Airlines, Thai Airways
, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia
among those who could be interested, Keskar added.
(additional reporting and writing by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by