ANALYSIS: Jet Airways may refleet low-cost unit amid competitive market

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India's Jet Airways made headlines recently when news leaked of an apparent order for 100-200 aircraft, including the Boeing 737 Max, 777-300ER and Airbus A320.

Reports about the order cite no official sources, and the carrier declines to comment.

Although Jet is keeping silent, a perusal of future deliveries data in Flightglobal's Ascend Online database suggests that while Jet can look forward to 58 deliveries - mainly 737-800s, with 10 Boeing 787-8s - its JetKonnect unit has just one delivery for an ATR 72-600 pending.

In addition, Flightglobal Pro data indicates that JetKonnect's low-cost fleet comprises just 20 aircraft: 16 737s, and four ATRs. Of these, two ATRs and two 737s are in storage.

Meanwhile, JetKonnect's low-cost rivals - IndiGo, GoAir, and SpiceJet - have big deliveries pending, Flightglobal's Ascend database shows. Market leader IndiGo will receive 202 A320 family aircraft, including dozens of neos, between now and 2024. GoAir is to receive 77 A320s, including 72 neos between 2016-22. SpiceJet is to receive 32 737s, mainly -800s, in the six years to 2019.

Air India, for its part, has 24 aircraft on order, but all of these are widebodies. Flightglobal's Ascend Online database lists no deliveries for its low-cost unit, Air India Express.

Total planned deliveries for all Indian carriers amount to 394 aircraft, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows.

Given the strong future demand for low-cost air travel in India, and the relative weakness of JetKonnect's delivery schedule against major rivals, the rumour of a major Jet order has an air of truth about it. Next month's Paris air show could well see Jet show its hand.