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SpiceJet May Buy 100 Airbus Planes as Boeing 737 Max Remains Grounded: Report

Representative image (Image source: Reuters)

Representative image (Image source: Reuters)

SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh said that the airline may buy a 'sizable' number of Airbus A321LR and XLR jets (longer-range variants of A321neo) to accommodate a planned expansion, though no decision has been made yet.

Low-cost carrier SpiceJet Ltd, which has so far been a major customer of the now-grounded Boeing 737 Max, is now considering to buy at least 100 Airbus planes to expand fleet.

SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh said that the airline may buy a “sizable” number of Airbus A321LR and XLR jets (longer-range variants of A321neo) to accommodate a planned expansion, though no decision has been made yet, Bloomberg reported. “They (Airbus) have made us a commercial offer and we are evaluating it,” said Singh.

He further added that “any aircraft order that SpiceJet places would at least be 100 aircraft”. That would translate into a deal value of over $13 billion, considering the 2018 list prices before customary discounts for the A321neo.

Singh, however, said that SpiceJet would also be looking forward to a competing midrange jetliner from Boeing it the company decides to build one.

Notably, SpiceJet already has 13 Boeing 737 Max jets in its fleet and had committed to buy as many as 205 more for its capacity expansion. But things took a turn when the Max was grounded worldwide after two different crashes involving the plane killed 346 people. It has been six months since the 737 Max grounding, and the timing of the return of the aircraft is yet not clear.

Singh said that Boeing has told SpiceJet that it expects US regulators to re-certify 737 Max in early November. As Indian regulators may also conduct their own assessments, Singh is hoping that SpiceJet begins flying its Max planes again in January 2020. Meanwhile, the report said that SpiceJet is in conversations with Boeing about compensation for the costs incurred from the grounding.

For now, SpiceJet is running a number of older 737s as the Max remains on the ground, but Singh said that those jets are more expensive and less efficient to operate. “You need to keep evaluating, and we are evaluating the Airbus options,” Singh said. “It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, of course — our entire infrastructure is geared for a Boeing fleet -- but if this takes too long, we may not have too much of a choice,” he added.


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