Boeing has advanced substantially over the past year, despite being the market leader of Airbus. The aviation industry in India has had rapid growth over the past 20 years, and it is currently the third-largest in the world.
Airbus and Boeing moved swiftly to capitalize on this demand, selling hundreds of aircraft to carriers in the nation, as the market is only expected to continue expanding. Both playmakers are more concentrated than ever on India, though, as new competitors arise and current ones grow. Consider their current and projected presence in India.
Boeing and Airbus
Efficiency and capacity are the lifeblood of airlines in India, a low-cost-dominated market with razor-thin margins. As a result, the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families, which make up around 85% of the aircraft now in service in India, have emerged as the leading aircraft in airline fleets. With both competing for significant aircraft contracts in recent years, Airbus and Boeing, however, are engaged in a fierce battle.
With a significant lead in the market, Boeing started the century. On its domestic and short-haul international routes, Jet Airways, the country’s leading airline at the time, employed the 737. It also placed significant orders for new models. Indian Airlines (which later merged with Air India) and Kingfisher were two of Airbus’s largest clients, yet the company was still at the back of the pack.
Low-cost airlines, however, were poised to cause significant market disruption. Three significant low-cost carriers—SpiceJet, IndiGo, and GoAir—entered the market starting in 2005. (now Go First).
Airbus and Boeing scurried to offer new fleets with a clean slate of aircraft orders. These low-cost carriers, though, had big orders in mind that were worth more than ever before and broke national records.
IndiGo, the world’s largest low-cost airline, placed the first big order for Airbus from India. At the time, the start-up airline made the largest-ever order for Airbus A320s in India, placing a multi-billion dollar order for 100 aircraft (only recently beaten). Airbus’ order book in the nation saw significant growth as a result, catching up to Boeing.
Boeing to supply aircraft to Jet Airlines and Air India
It was a successful business arrangement for Boeing to supply aircraft to Jet Airlines and Air India, which acquired brand-new 737, 747, and 777 aircraft. SpiceJet is Boeing’s first significant low-cost airline contract, even though GoAir also chose the A320 series. Nonetheless, the market share had already started to change.
In 2011, IndiGo ordered 180 more A320neos as part of its commitment to the A320 series. Large airplane orders in India were suddenly difficult to come by for Boeing.
By 2006, Air India stopped ordering new aircraft from the American behemoth, and Jet Airways’ growth had halted in the face of fierce competition from low-cost carriers. The 787 and 777 would continue to be delivered for many years, but it was getting harder to find fresh orders.
By 2011, SpiceJet had received roughly a dozen 737 aircraft, aiding Boeing’s delivery schedule. But, GoAir also purchased 12 aircraft from Airbus, and many more were expected to be delivered soon. The equilibrium had started to change.
Boeing suddenly saw a boost with the introduction of the 737 MAX in 2014. To replace existing 737NGs and expand their market share, SpiceJet and Jet Airlines each placed a sizable order for 200 aircraft. Finally, Boeing had a plane that generated interest after several years of order droughts.
But Airbus wasn’t too far behind. GoAir placed orders for 72 brand-new A320neo aircraft with the European powerhouse in 2011. Following up on its previous record-breaking purchase, IndiGo placed a second order for 250 A320neos, keeping Airbus and Boeing competitive in the late 2010s.
But a few years later, Boeing was in danger. Due to Jet Airlines’ financial difficulties, fewer planes were being delivered than expected, which impacted demand. But, the 737 MAX’s grounding in March 2019 dealt the greatest harm. A month later, Jet Airlines declared bankruptcy and immediately halted all flights and cancellations.
Boeing’s presence in the Indian market
Suddenly, Boeing’s presence on the Indian market was gone (at the time). As lessors swiftly seized aircraft, the number of operating 737s decreased by more than 50%, and Boeing’s order book for the MAX was cut in half almost immediately.
SpiceJet’s expansion was hampered by having to stop MAX deliveries. Even though the low-cost airline took on close to 30 Jet 737NGs, these were only temporary while the MAX was still grounded.
Era of Airbus
Airbus had a lot smoother journey than Boeing, which had to deal with crisis after crisis in India. The Airbus A320 series is the only aircraft family used by Air India (narrowbodies), GoAir, Vistara, AirAsia India, and IndiGo. Almost 800 aircraft have been ordered by these airlines collectively, with IndiGo serving as Airbus’ largest international client.
In India, the A320neo has taken over fleets from all carriers, making it the most widely used aircraft. The 737, meanwhile, has gradually lost favor over the past few years. Presently, Air India Express has a fleet of 26 aircraft, whereas SpiceJet has a fleet of 46.
Less than 15% of Air India’s operating narrowbody aircraft are 737s as of right now. A significantly larger 85% is accounted for by the A320 family. While it appeared that this gap would widen, recent developments have reintegrated Boeing.
Because of a struggling SpiceJet and a stagnant Air India Express in India, 2022 amended the rules just as many were about to write Boeing’s obituary. Akasa, a new airline, got things started by placing an initial order for 72 737 MAXs by the end of 2021.
Last year, delivery sped up, and the airline has now received an astounding 19 aircraft. We discussed the airline’s objectives for the future and the first six months of operations with co-founder Neelu Khatri. Here’s a hint: it likely requires a lot more planes and a future order of at least three figures.
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But, Air India’s 470-jet order and recently privatized and revived status were the true game-changers. 220 of these aircraft, including 190 737 MAXs, 20 787s, and 10 777Xs, are being delivered to Boeing. The 737 is back in the Indian skies in a large manner, even though the carrier hasn’t said whether the MAXs will go to the low-cost arm AIX Connect (combining AI Express and AirAsia India) or the mainstream fleet.
The aviation market in India only has a limited (10%) share for widebodies. The demand for foreign travel is expected to increase and new airlines will likely enter the market, thus they are expected to expand in the upcoming years. Air India will soon overtake Boeing in this area, which has long been a Boeing stronghold. Currently, Boeing has 100% market dominance.
Boeing deal for 30 new widebodies and
19 777s and 27 787s are now in service with the flag carrier. The aforementioned Boeing agreement for 30 new widebodies and 9 more leased 777s will increase this number.
A 40 A350 order has, however, ultimately caused Airbus to crash the widebody segment in India. For the first time in a decade, the European aircraft manufacturer will be involved in this, and while it is a great improvement from zero, but only holds less than half the market.
Vistara is now the only other widebody operator, but by the end of the year, it will be incorporated into the flag carrier. There are now three 787-9s in service, and a further seven are expected.
The market appeared to be headed by Airbus as the clear leader when we first released this piece in August 2021. Throughout a short period, Boeing has emerged as a serious rival and is still growing.
Air India’s purchase, which includes 250 jets, 210 of which will be A320neo family aircraft, still favors Airbus, but the company’s strong preference for Boeing demonstrates the enormous possibility that this decade and beyond will bring for both aircraft manufacturers.
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