India's Akasa Air placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 Max jets valued at nearly $9 billion at list prices during the Dubai Airshow on Tuesday, as the US plane maker seeks a bigger share of the fast-growing Indian travel market.
The low-cost carrier ordered two variants from the 737 Max family, the 737-8 and the high-capacity 737-8-200, it said on Tuesday.
"We believe that the new 737 Max aircraft will support our aim of running not just a cost-efficient, reliable and affordable airline, but also an environmentally friendly company with the youngest and greenest fleet in the Indian skies," Vinay Dube, Akasa Air's chief executive, said. "India is one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world with an unparalleled potential."
The Mumbai-based carrier, which is backed by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, plans to start commercial flights in the summer of 2022 and use its new fleet of 737s to meet the growing demand across India.
"We are already witnessing a strong recovery in air travel and we see decades of growth ahead of us," Mr Dube said.
The order comes after India's aviation regulator lifted a safety ban on the 737 Max, which was introduced following two fatal crashes involving the model in Indonesia and Ethiopia in a span of five months that killed 346 people.
The deal will allow Boeing to gain a firm footing in a narrow-body jet market dominated by rival Airbus aircraft.
India's growing economy and expanding middle class will fuel strong demand for commercial flights, driving the need for more than 2,200 new planes in South Asia valued at nearly $320bn over the next 20 years, Boeing said in its 2021 Commercial Market Outlook forecast.