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India's SpiceJet weighs switch to Airbus planes


Boeing 737 Max

New Delhi: SpiceJet, the Indian discount carrier operating an all-Boeing fleet, said it may consider a full switch to Airbus aircraft as it weighs options for a new generation of planes. "As long as you can manage the implications and the risks that you're taking and there's enough money in it" the company would consider the switch, chief executive Neil Mills said in an interview in Mumbai on Sunday. The carrier currently has 37 Boeing 737 aircraft and plans to add seven more of the planes this year, he said.

A switch by SpiceJet would further tilt India's budget airline fleet market share in favour of Europe-based Airbus, whose planes are used by IndiGo, India's biggest domestic carrier by market share, and Go Airlines (India).  Such a move could further hurt Boeing as it works to implement safety upgrades to its 787 Dreamliner to end a two-month grounding of the fleet after a smoking battery forced an emergency landing on January 16.

737 Max
Mills was part of the EasyJet team that in 2002 oversaw the start of a transition at the UK carrier from an all-Boeing fleet to Airbus aircraft. EasyJet had 75 aircraft when it started the transition toward an Airbus fleet, Mills said. SpiceJet will consider Airbus A320neos to replace its Boeing fleet, he said. "It's the new generation of aircraft that offers the next level of technology," Mills said.

The planemaker said last month it's in talks with SpiceJet and Jet Airways (India) to sell its 737 Max single-aisle aircraft as the plane maker forecast Indian carriers would need 1,450 new planes through 2031.

Boeing has 1,064 firm orders globally for the 737 Max single-aisle planes, Dinesh Keskar, senior vice-president for India and Asia Pacific sales, said last month. In comparison, Airbus had 1,734 firm orders for the A320neos as of December 31.

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