SpiceJet Ltd. is weighing an order for at least 100 Airbus SE planes as Boeing Co. grapples with the fallout over its grounded 737 Max.
The budget carrier, a major global customer for the Max, may buy a “sizable” number of Airbus A321LR and XLR jets to accommodate a planned expansion, SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh said Tuesday. No decision has been made, he said, and the airline would consider a competing midrange jetliner if Boeing decides to build one.
Airbus has “pushed us hard since the day we started flying Boeing aircraft, and of course with the current problems, they’ve pushed us harder,” Singh said in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “They have made us a commercial offer and we are evaluating it.”
The discussions with Airbus threaten Boeing with a high-profile defection at a time when the U.S. planemaker is enmeshed in one of the biggest crises in its 103-year history. SpiceJet, India’s second-largest airline, has 13 Max jets already in its fleet and has committed to buy as many as 205 of the single-aisle workhorses as it expands capacity to handle the nation’s fast-growing demand for air travel.
While Singh didn’t specify the exact size of a potential transaction, he said “any aircraft order that SpiceJet places would at least be 100 aircraft.”
An order of that scale could exceed $10 billion based on 2018 sticker prices. Though official prices for the LR and XLR aren’t public, the two jets are longer variants of the A321 family of planes, the cheapest of which start at $118 million each.
SpiceJet shares rose as much as 3.1% to Rs. 134.45, their highest level in almost two weeks. The broader S&P BSE Sensex index was down more than 1%.
The Max has been grounded worldwide since March after a pair of crashes killed 346 people. More than six months later, the timing of the return to service remains unclear as regulators worldwide conduct independent assessments of the jet’s airworthiness.