SEATTLE, WASHINGTON Boeing is in advanced talks with the newly launched Indian budget carrier to sell 737 Max jets, a deal that could give the U.S. planemaker a crucial breakthrough in a major market dominated by Airbus.

The airline, Akasa, backed by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, has also held discussions with Airbus for its best-selling A320neo jets, but that model isn’t available for delivery until several years down the track, tilting the equation in Boeing’s favor, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

The talks aren’t finalized and could still fall apart, the people said. Akasa, which is seeking initial approval from India’s aviation ministry, plans to use sale-and-leaseback deals to finance the planes, one of the people said. This would allow the new airline to receive cash from leasing firms as it takes possession of the jets.

Jhunjhunwala’s new airline is looking at operating a fleet of 70 aircraft in four years, the businessman said in a Bloomberg Television interview last month. An order for 70 units of 737 Max-8 jets -- the most popular model -- would be valued at $8.5 billion at sticker prices, although discounts are common in large plane orders. Boeing is likely to offer steeper-than-usual discounts on this deal, the people said.

A representative for Boeing said it always seeks opportunities and consistently talks with current and potential customers about how it can best support its fleet and operational needs. A representative for Jhunjhunwala didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Via Bloomberg