Boeing Says in Talks With Indian Carriers to Sell 737 Max

Boeing Co. said it is in talks with Indian carriers including Jet Airways (India) Ltd., SpiceJet Ltd. and Air India to sell them 737 Max aircraft.

The planemaker sees some progress in discussions to get orders for the aircraft from Jet Airways and SpiceJet, Dinesh Keskar, Boeing’s senior vice-president for India and Asia Pacific sales, said at a press conference in Bangalore today. Boeing, which is working with regulators in the U.S. and Japan to get its grounded 787 Dreamliner back in the air, has 1,064 firm orders globally for the 737 Max single-aisle planes.

The purchase discussions are taking place as Jet Airways is getting closer to a deal with Etihad Airways PJSC that will make the Gulf carrier the first foreign airline to buy into a local operator after India eased ownership rules. Still, India today forecast the weakest economic growth in a decade as subdued investment and elevated inflation add pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to extend policy changes.

Jet Airways this month reported a net income in the quarter ended December, compared with a loss in the year-earlier period, while SpiceJet posted profit that beat analyst estimates. The airlines boosted profitability as the yields improved, said Keskar.

“Can they sustain these yields, which I think they can because of the balance of capacity in the market,” said Keskar. “They will continue to do well and aviation will continue to grow profitably.”

Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., the Indian carrier that’s halted flights for want of cash, reported net loss widened and didn’t have any sales from operations in the quarter ended December. It suspended operations from Oct. 1 and its flying permit lapsed at the end of last year.

Passenger Numbers

Passenger numbers on Indian domestic routes declined 2.9 percent to 53.4 million in the 11 months ended November, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a report published on its website.

Boeing today reiterated carriers in the Asian nation will need 1,450 new aircraft, a forecast it had made in September.

The Indian commercial aviation market is improving with higher yields and stability in fuel charges, Keskar said.

Gross domestic product will rise 5 percent in the 12 months through March 2013, below last year’s 6.2 percent and the slowest pace since 4 percent in 2002-2003, a Central Statistical Office statement showed today.