New Delhi/Singapore: SpiceJet is set to seal an order for at least 90 new 737 jets from
Boeing, two sources said on Thursday, as the low-cost carrier targets an
expansion to tap into India's booming air travel market.
The announcement for the 737 MAX aircraft - which includes at least
42 of the narrowbody jets SpiceJet had previously agreed to buy from
Boeing in 2014 - is expected as early as Friday when SpiceJet's chairman
holds a press event in New Delhi, the sources, who were familiar with
the matter, said.
The sources declined to be identified ahead of Friday's press announcement.
An agreement with SpiceJet, which has a current fleet of 40 planes,
would be a much-needed boost for Boeing in India, as its rival Airbus
has won record-sized orders with IndiGo, India's biggest budget airline,
as well as a recent deal with GoAir.
SpiceJet and Boeing did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
India is the world's fastest growing aviation market, showing
double-digit growth in annual passenger numbers thanks to low prices and
rising disposable incomes.
SpiceJet has been in talks with Boeing and Airbus since 2015, and
it is expected to have secured a discount from the roughly $10 billion
cost of the 90 737 MAX jets based on list prices. Airlines typically get
discounts from list prices when placing large orders.
Under chairman Ajay Singh, SpiceJet has been rebuilding its
business since almost collapsing after running out of cash in late 2014.
The airline has grown its market share and returned to profitability but it remains far smaller than market leader IndiGo.
Despite soaring passenger numbers, Indian carriers have struggled
to achieve consistent profitability because of fierce competition,
regular price wars and high operating costs.