Boeing Wins First 737 Max Order Since Alaska Blowout

Skift Take

The timing and size of this order from Akasa Air will be a big confidence booster for Boeing.

After a horrific start to January, Boeing has received a much needed boost. The good news has come from India where the country’s youngest carrier Akasa Air has ordered 150 Boeing 737 Max aircraft. The deal was confirmed at the aviation event Wings India 2024 on Thursday in Hyderabad. 

As Akasa looks to fly international, this latest order, comprising 737 Max 10 and 737 Max 8-200 planes, is expected to provide the airline a steady aircraft delivery stream through 2032. It brings the carrier’s current order book to 226 aircraft.

None of the incoming Akasa jets are the 737 Max 9 variant which has been subject to grounding in the United States. Affected operators have been inspecting their fleets following the mid-air blowout of a door plug on an Alaska Airlines plane on January 5.

Akasa Air Goes for Growth

Launched in August 2022, Akasa Air currently operates a fleet of 22 aircraft and commanded a domestic market share of 4.1% in 2023.

In 2021, the airline placed its initial order for 72 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, which was followed up with an order of 4 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in June 2023. The airline expects to receive 204 plane deliveries over the next eight years. 

Describing the order as historic, Vinay Dube, founder and CEO of Akasa Air, said, “These additions to our fleet will help us bolster the strength of our operations as we expand our footprint and foray into international skies.”

The airline connects 18 cities across India, having established a strong presence connecting metros with tier 2 and 3 cities across the country.

Akasa Air Pilot Problems

New planes are great, but finding crew to fly them can prove tricky. Last year, Akasa grappled with a high-profile pilot shortage. The airline had more than 450 pilots, however from July to September, over 40 of them resigned without wanting to serve their notice period, forcing the airline to cut flights in the short-term. 

The airline ultimately brought the pilots to court, seeking compensation for the disruption in its operations and the harm inflicted on its reputation.

“A small set of pilots abandoned their duties and left the organization without serving their mandatory contractual notice period, therefore forcing a disruption of flights between July and September 2023. This necessitated last-minute cancellations that stranded customers and caused inconvenience to the travelling public,” the company said in a statement on September 22.

“In the interest of passenger convenience, and an attempt to stop this unethical and illegal practice by this set of pilots, Akasa Air has sought relief from the Delhi high court,” it added.

The airline has now said that there is no shortage of pilots. Akasa Air is also reportedly looking to raise $400 million as it seeks to increase its valuation from $650 million to $1 billion.

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