Akasa Air, backed by Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, has signed a spare engines and long-term services agreement with CFM International as part of its purchase of LEAP-1B engines to power its recently-announced 737 MAX aircraft.

The purchase and services agreement with CFM is valued at nearly US$4.5 billion at list price.

“We are extremely pleased to partner with CFM International as we embark on an exciting journey to launch the greenest, most affordable and most dependable airline in India,” said the soon to be launched Indian airline’s CEO Vinay Dube.

“Our partnership with CFM will ensure that we adhere to the world’s highest standards of maintenance and deliver the industry’s best technical dispatch reliability.”

“The LEAP-1B engine will support our tech-driven culture by enabling real-time engine monitoring and predictive maintenance planning. With this agreement, we now have the foundation to ensure the most competitive and reliable operations in our fast-growing market.”

CFM International’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Philippe Couteaux commented, “We are proud to develop a strong relationship with Akasa and play a key role in the launch of their operations by providing them with the industry-leading asset utilisation, fuel efficiency, and overall cost of ownership.”

“On behalf of the entire team worldwide, it will be a great honour to help launch this new airline with the industry-leading support and reliability that has become a hallmark of CFM International.”

As per CFM, to date, nearly 600 engines are operated by airlines from the Indian subcontinent and over 1,700 LEAP engines are on order.

CFM’s LEAP engine

CFM’s advanced LEAP engine has logged over 12 million engine flight hours in commercial operations. The LEAP-1B engine entered into service on the Boeing 737 MAX in 2017. Over 600 aircraft have been delivered to some 66 operators worldwide and the fleet has logged more than 2.5 million engine flight hours.

“The fleet is providing better fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions, as well as a significant improvement in noise compared to the best CFM56 engines while maintaining the CFM legendary reliability,” a CFM statement said.

Akasa Air’s plans

SNV Aviation, which will fly under the brand name Akasa Air, has already received a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) from the Ministry of Civil Aviation as it embarks on its journey to offer airline services. Akasa Air plans to offer flights across India, starting early 2022. It aims to be the nation’s most “dependable, affordable, and greenest airline”.

Big Bull’s aviation business

Jhunjhunwala, arguably the most astute investor of current times, is betting big on India, the world’s second-most populous country. India is hugely under-penetrated in air travel as about 8 per cent of India’s population fly.

Jhunjhunwala will reportedly invest US$35 million (nearly Rs 260 crore) for a 40 per cent stake in Akasa. His team includes, among others, former IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh and former Jet Airways CEO Dube, who is also the director of the holding company SNV Aviation Private Limited.

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