Interview | Senior vice president, Asia Pacific & India Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Dr Dinesh Keskar

'For more than 75 years, we have supported India’s airlines with the very best airplanes and services, and we have deep knowledge of what they need to be successful in this very competitive market'

Dr Dinesh KeskarHas airport capacity managed to keep pace with growth in aviation in India since more planes mean more landing spots?

Airport capacity, and more importantly the management of a country’s airports, is a necessary and critical element to the aviation industry, regardless of the nation. The continual growth in the aviation industry worldwide, and especially in India, will continue to add pressure and constraints to the already over-crowded airports.

Over the last several years, efforts have been made throughout India to improve capacity, such as new terminals and airports in Delhi and Mumbai, as well as getting some Tier-II airports ready. More work though needs to be done to meet the growing demand, with continual improvements in not just the airports themselves but also in the runways, air traffic control systems, as well as the supporting facilities and transportation networks. Additional focus will also need to be placed on smaller cities and more regional airports, as that is where the future growth will also happen as passenger travel continues to grow.


What can you tell us about Boeing’s potential new mid-market jet?

We’re having very productive conversations with our customers and continue firming up our opportunities. The feedback we’ve received is the desire for an airplane that’s bigger than the 757 with more range. We define the middle of the market as the segment between the largest 737 and the smallest 787. That space isn’t served by any airplane today. We are notionally looking at an airplane with 200-270 seats, with a range of up to 5,000 nautical miles, including trans-Atlantic flights and similar length routes in the Asian market. If we decide to go forward with an airplane in that space, we believe it would enter service in the middle of the next decade.

We recently announced the creation of a new programme office to move us one step closer to a decision on a New Mid-Market Airplane (NMA) and also serve as a vehicle to evolve how we design and build airplanes. This is an exciting time for our business, but the announcement represents neither a programme launch nor an indication of when we will decide whether to take the next step with NMA.


How bullish are you about the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in India?

Single-aisle airplanes continue to account for the majority of all airplanes needed in India. Our 2017 Current Market Outlook projected that the Indian economy will be the third largest in the world by 2037 and airlines in India will require 2,100 new jet airplanes at a value of USD290 billion, including 1,780 narrowbody airplanes such as the 737 MAX. Our Next-Generation 737s have become the backbone of airlines such as Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Air India Express, providing them with exceptional fuel efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort.

Both Jet Airways and SpiceJet will take delivery of their first 737 MAX 8s later this year, ushering in a new-level of capability of airlines. Combined, Jet Airways and SpiceJet have publically announced orders and commitments for more than 200 737 MAXs. These new airplanes incorporate the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets and the other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market. However, neither SpiceJet nor Jet Airways has ordered enough airplanes to replace their existing fleets nor for future growth. We see potential at both airlines, as well as Air India Express, for the 737 MAX. Airlines in India clearly know how successful they can be with the 737 family of airplanes, and as they look to refresh and expand their fleets, we will continue to work with them to provide them with the most-reliable single-aisle airplane.

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