Boeing says Indian carriers will not be “at the front end of the programme” for its 777X, but expects discussions for the type to feature more prominently in two to three years.
Speaking to Flightglobal, Dinesh Keskar, senior vice-president of sales in Asia Pacific and India, says this is because the country’s only two widebody operators still have relatively young Boeing 777-300ERs in their fleets.
Air India for instance has 12 -300ERs in service, averaging at six years old. It also has another three of the type on order, Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyzer shows.
Jet Airways meanwhile has four -300ERs averaging at eight years old in operation, and another five of the type on lease to Etihad Airways.
“So the 777X will be the longer story. We keep them briefed on what the X can do especially on the significant fuel burn savings, lower maintenance costs, interiors and technology for IFE. Now when the competition starts flying those… they will have to keep up,” says Keskar.
“But in everything there is an optimal time for replacement. You can’t get rid of a widebody in six years, the economics just won’t work. My feeling is they will come into discussions in 2-3 years and then order at that time.”
He adds that Boeing will remain dominant on the widebody front in India, believing that Jet will phase out its Airbus A330s when its Boeing 787s are delivered, and its -300ERs return, and with no carrier having ordered the A350 or the A380.
On Boeing’s order backlog in the country, he says: “We continue to be reasonably satisfied with our market positioning in India. Sure, there is no 300-400 order base but we think what our customers are doing is to look at the situation and order in bunches.”