India's newest airline Akasa Air has ordered 150 Boeing 737 MAX planes
India's newest airline Akasa Air has ordered 150 Boeing 737 MAX planes AFP

India's newest airline, Akasa Air, said Thursday it has ordered 150 Boeing 737 MAX planes as it looks to bolster its fleet and kick off international operations.

The deal is a shot in the arm for US aviation giant Boeing, which is under intense global scrutiny over its 737 MAX 9 jet, after a scare on an Alaska Airlines jet in early January when a panel came off mid-flight and forced an emergency landing.

Akasa Air CEO Vinay Dube said the "historic" order for 737 MAX 10 and 737 MAX 8-200 jets would put the carrier on the path to "becoming one of the top 30 leading airlines in the world".

Akasa has been a strong Boeing backer, having ordered 72 aircraft in 2021, and another four in 2023, and Dube said Akasa's growth illustrates the "promise that India holds as an aviation market".

But the order does not include Boeing's MAX 9 aircraft involved in the Alaska Airline scare. No Indian airline uses the Boeing MAX 9 plane.

The country's aviation regulator said two weeks ago that its check of the 737 8 MAX aircraft had been completed satisfactorily.

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia praised the order in a message on X, formerly Twitter.

"Congratulations to Akasa Air for the landmark order of 150 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft," he wrote.

The carrier is "creating history by becoming the only Indian airline to reach a firm order book of 200+ aircraft within 17 months of operations," Scindia added.

India is now the third biggest buyer of planes after China and the United States, Scindia said, speaking at the "Wings India" aviation conference on Thursday.

"India's Civil Aviation growth story is remarkable and poised for exponential growth," Scindia added on X.

"The sector has become a key driver of economic development and social progress, thus providing significant benefits in tourism, trade, and job creation".

Last June, Scindia said that domestic carriers would order between 1,200 and 1,400 aircraft by 2028.

India is the fifth biggest economy and one of the world's fastest-growing air travel markets, with several airlines vying to serve a growing middle class in the country of 1.4 billion people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has pledged to build 80 airports by 2025, and the world's dominant aerospace companies are competing in India seeking new business.

Akasa -- sky in Sanskrit -- is pitching itself as an ultra-low-cost carrier with tickets cheaper than competitors.

The carrier made its maiden flight in the Asian country's crowded aviation market in 2022.