NEW DELHI, June 19 (Reuters) - Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet has committed to buy the new 737 MAX 10 planes from Boeing Co, the companies said, becoming an inaugural customer for an aircraft designed to blunt strong sales of rival planemaker Airbus’ A321neo.
The agreement for 40 aircraft, valued at $4.7 billion at current list prices, includes an order for 20 new 737 MAX 10 planes and conversion of 20 of SpiceJet’s 737 MAX 8 aircraft from an existing order, the two companies said in a statement on Monday.
“We are proud to be a part of the launch of the 737 MAX 10 and to be the first airline in India to order the newest version of the 737, which will enable us to maximize revenue on our dense routes while having a lower unit seat cost,” SpiceJet’s chairman and managing director, Ajay Singh, said in the statement.
Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air and China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings could also be among the inaugural customers for Boeing’s new 737 MAX 10 planes, sources have told Reuters.
Asia, especially India, is a key market for planemakers, with analysts expecting Indian passenger numbers to more than triple over the next 20 years as millions more people become wealthy enough to fly for the first time.
SpiceJet, which was briefly forced to ground its fleet in late 2014 when it ran out of cash, is the fourth-largest Indian airline behind InterGlobe Aviation’s IndiGo, Jet Airways and state-run Air India.
SpiceJet, which operates a fleet of 35 Boeing 737s and 20 Bombardier Q400s, agreed in January to acquire 100 new MAX 737 aircraft as part of its expansion plans in the world’s fastest growing aviation market.
The budget carrier plans to grow its operational fleet to 200 airplanes by the end of the decade and expand regionally with the new 737 MAX family of airplanes. SpiceJet will take delivery of its first 737 MAX in 2018. (Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)