Beyond the current crisis triggered by the pandemic, India’s civil aviation market is poised to welcome more than 2,000 new aircraft over the next two decades. It’s an incredibly strong market for us, said Boeing India President Salil Gupte in an exclusive interview with DH on the sidelines of Aero India 2021.
Many Indian airlines are considering embarking on long-haul international routes. What are the challenges and how can Boeing respond with the right aircraft customized for this industry?
The point-to-point long-haul sector is really attractive and fascinating for Indian airlines. From a contextual point of view, geographically, India in the international market has always been under pressure for many years now as it sits between a set of powerful hubs like the Middle East with Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, the hubs of Southeast Asia.
Many airlines based in these hubs derive a large part of their demand from the Indian market. They connect the traffic through these hubs and send it elsewhere in Asia, Europe or the United States. Indian airlines are challenged in this competition by these hub airlines. But now, as the market recovers from Covid-19, the demand for long-haul point-to-point traffic is increasing.
So where does Boeing stand in this new developing sector for Indian airlines?
To perform these long-haul services properly, you need a fuel-efficient aircraft of the right size. There will always be a demand from Delhi to London or Mumbai to JFK. But what about from Bangalore to Seattle? What about Chicago to Hyderabad?
On these types of roads, planes like the 787, fuel efficient with the right size and the right range, is what will make airline customers increasingly profitable.
To recoup the losses, many airlines carried air cargo with passengers. Do you think that future planes would lend themselves better to these reconfigurations?
Boeing has significant experience in freight conversions. We are seeing strong demand for conversions of 737 freighters in India and around the world as airlines such as SpiceJet seek to meet the burgeoning e-commerce market.
Our products such as the 777 have unmatched chest loading capabilities. We also worked with our airline partners during the pandemic to reconfigure their planes to also carry cargo in the seats and cabin holds. This is a key area of ââthe support we provide to all of our customers.
What is the status of the Boeing 737 Max, grounded for safety concerns?
The 737 Max is a safe aircraft that we return with confidence to skies around the world. It has already been returned to service in the United States by several airlines after the FAA grounded it. In India, we have made a commitment with the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to return this aircraft to service on time.