India’s Akasa Air says it is still satisfied with the delivery timeline of its Boeing 737 Max aircraft, despite ongoing delays, as it prepares to expand its operations internationally. 

Airline co-founder and commercial chief Praveen Iyer says while some 737 Max deliveries have slipped to the right by a few months, Akasa remains “very happy with our delivery streams”. 

Akasa Air Boeing 737-8-200

Source: Akasa Air

Akasa Air says it is still satisfied with delivery timelines of its Boeing 737 Max aircraft

Iyer, speaking to FlightGlobal at the CAPA India Aviation Summit in Delhi, adds: “In fact, I would take a step forward and say, we are very well aligned – between Boeing and us – about what comes when, and how.” 

Akasa, which began operations in August 2022, is a 737 Max-only operator, and has 150 Max 10s and high-density Max 8-200s on order, in addition to more Max 8s. 

Boeing is battling manufacturing and quality issues on the 737 Max and the US airframer faces increased regulatory scrutiny after an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9’s cabin door-plug blew out in flight in January. 

While he declines to disclose specifics, Iyer says the airline expects to take the first of the Max 10/Max 8-200 aircraft from 2027, when all 76 737 Max 8s have been delivered. 

He adds: “As a planner, would you be hungry for more [aircraft]? Yes…but in general as an airline, we are very happy with our delivery streams.” 

Separately, Akasa executives detailed the low-cost operator’s “ambitious” international growth plans, pointing out many network opportunities within a 4-5h radius from India. 

Akasa marked its international debut with flights to Doha in March, and will begin flights to Riyadh in June, Jeddah in July, with Kuwait to follow. 

Neelu Khatri, who is Akasa’s senior vice-president for international operations, says the airline “has marked many, many countries around India” for future expansion, including Nepal and Bangladesh, as well as Hong Kong, Vietnam and even the east coast of Africa. 

Akasa Air 737 Max 8_2

Source: Akasa Air

Indian carrier is an all-737 Max operator

Khatri stresses that the airline’s plans to go international “started even before we launched Akasa”, but that Indian civil aviation regulations only permit domestic carriers to operate international flights when their fleet grows to 20 aircraft. 

Akasa chief information officer Anand Srinivasan adds: “[The] limitation to our international plans is the range of our aircraft, as well as the bilaterals available.” He was referring to India’s bilateral traffic rights with countries, which caps seats on certain routes, particularly to the Middle East. 

When asked whether Akasa will focus on growing international routes this year, Iyer tells FlightGlobal the airline “will put our aircraft where the money is.” He notes that the airline’s strategy “is not so much about international-domestic”, but more about commercial viability.