The exit of Kingfisher Airlines has improved the prospects for Indian commercial airlines, said a senior Boeing official on Wednesday.
Dinesh Keskar, vice-president, Asia-Pacific & India, Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said that with SpiceJet and Jet Airways profitable again, and the interest shown by Etihad to enter the Indian market, the Indian market had bright prospects. “The exit of one airline (Kingfisher) since October has brought a measure of balance to the market,” Dr. Keskar observed. “We think fares have risen adequately for airlines, and this reflected in the results posted by the airline companies in the last quarter.”
Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the ninth edition of Aero India 2013, Dr. Keskar said Boeing expects the Indian commercial airplane market to grow at 8 per cent over the next 20 years. Boeing expects there would be demand for 1,450 planes during this period, valued at $175 billion. Three-fourths of the demand will be for planes of the 737 class and the remaining for wide-bodied craft like the 777 and the 787.
“We do not think there is scope in the Indian market for a craft like the A-380,” he remarked. Boeing has on its order book 46 737s and 10 787s from Jet Airways. SpiceJet has ordered 31 to 36 737s.
Asked what the downside risks to his optimistic assessment were, Dr. Keskar cited the rising cost of fuel and the foreign exchange rate. Asked about the prospects of Boeing’s Dreamliner, 50 of which have been grounded across the world (including six belonging to Air India) following an incident in Japan last month, Dr. Keskar admitted that Air India has put its planned acquisition of Dreamliners on “pause” mode. Boeing engineers are working with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the U.S. Federal agency that regulates safety related issues, “to fix the problem”. The NTSB is likely to issue “an update on the issue very soon.” Boeing was to have delivered 60 Dreamliners to airline companies during 2013.
Wiland Wight, programme manager of the P-8I, Boeing’s long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, said the first deliveries of the craft would be made by the second quarter of the current year. The company has a contract to supply eight such aircraft to the Indian Navy, with an option for supplying four more.