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Interview | Akasa order underscores strength, resilience of India's aviation sector: Boeing's Darren Hulst

Boeing's Vice President of Commercial Marketing Darren Hulst speaks on Akasa aircraft order and how that will tilt the balance in favour of Boeing in the Indian market.

November 16, 2021 / 10:38 PM IST


Shortly after Akasa, the ultralow-cost airline being promoted by Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and former IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh announced that it had decided to order 72 Boeing MAX aircraft, Darren Hulst, Vice President, Commercial Marketing, Boeing, met MoneyControl in the Boeing chalet at the ongoing Dubai Air Show to talk about the order. Pointing out that “this (the ongoing Dubai Air Show where the agreement was signed) is where we are announcing the order,” he added that Boeing has been talking with Akasa “for a long time” about the order. He added that this was a long term discussion which finally led to an announcement of Akasa ordering the Boeing aircraft today.

Edited excerpts

Q; How does this order tilt the balance in favour of Boeing in the Indian market?

A: For us, it is really about our customer. I think it reflects the Indian market and how strong and resilient air travel is and will be in this market. For us,  it is a validation of how the Boeing 737-8 and the Boeing 737 8-200 are great low-cost vehicles for our customers who compete in the marketplace.

Q: How does it change the balance in the Indian market?

A: Obviously it is a sizeable order …. It is a new customer. From our perspective, this is a growing market that can stand more competition.

Q: When is the first delivery and how does it move from there?

A: You can ask Akasa when the deliveries are. If you look at the release they are hoping and planning to start schedule services in the middle of 2022.

Q: Akasa has ordered 72 MAX. How many of the aircraft are on firm order and how many are on options?

A: All 72 are firm orders and they are a mix of Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 737-8 200 which have a high capacity, capable of 200 seats.

Q: Given that the MAX is only allowed domestically and not internationally will that be a setback for Akasa having ordered the MAX?

A: We continue to work with the regulators to have the plane fly anywhere and everywhere. We are seeing activities around the world towards the aircraft being used across all types of markets. Thinking into the next year and beyond I do not think it is going to be any sort of constraint.

Q: As part of the order are you providing simulators or training?

A: I do not have details on that. But every time we sell an aircraft or specially a fleet of aircraft like this, a lot of other things go with the sale which support the aircraft.

Q: Now Air India has got divested how does that help in getting more orders from India?

A: In my mind, it makes the market even more competitive because now there are more private carriers competing in the market space. You have got an airline with Air India’s size and network which can evolve and develop. From my perspective that is better for everybody.

(Ashwini Phadnis is at the Dubai Air Show at the invitation of flydubai)
Ashwini Phadnis is a senior journalist based in New Delhi.
first published: Nov 16, 2021 10:25 pm