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Indian airlines buy US$6 bn engines

India's carriers purchased US$6 bn worth of Boeing and Airbus planes from General Electric.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 14:32 IST

India's carriers emerged as the aviation industry's hottest clients this week, finalizing purchases worth about US$6 billion for Boeing and Airbus planes and General Electric engines.

Many of the deals were being signed at Asian Aerospace, the region's largest air show that began Tuesday in Singapore with more than 930 exhibitors from 43 countries hunting new customers in briskly expanding markets such as China and India. The buying spree illustrates how India's aviation sector, which has charted a passenger growth rate of between 25-30 percent in recent years, is fast tapping into what officials say is a potential market of 1.2 billion passengers.

"We think that this new order reflects the rapid growth in the Indian market, most of which is captured by low-cost carriers," said Ajay Singh, director of budget airline SpiceJet, which signed a deal Tuesday in Singapore to buy 10 Boeing jets worth around US$700 million.

Boeing Co.'s rival, Airbus SAS, was the first beneficiary of this week's windfall, when state-owned domestic carrier, Indian, signed a deal in New Delhi on Monday to acquire 43 Airbus passenger jets for US$2.5 billion.

Under the deal, Indian Airlines which changed its name to simply "Indian" in December will purchase A320 and A319 airplanes. The deal had been in development for some time, and was signed in the presence of French President Jacques Chirac and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who met in New Delhi. The rivalry between Chicago-based Boeing and Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, is being watched closely. Airbus said it would make a "suppliers announcement" later Wednesday in Singapore, but details were not immediately available.

Separately Tuesday, General Electric Co. said in New Delhi its aviation division signed a US$2 billion deal with state-run Air India in Singapore for engines to be used in 23 Boeing aircraft that Air India previously ordered.

Meanwhile, Jet Airways ordered GE engines worth $300 million, while Indian signed a deal worth US$500 million for engines from CFM International, a joint company between General Electric and France's Snecma.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 11:14 IST