Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, October 3, 2023


GE eyes India boost as foreign travel spurs demand for bigger planes

By Aditi Shah

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – General Electric’s aviation arm, already expecting to benefit from a boom in Indian domestic air travel, sees an even bigger boost from a surge in international travel that will drive demand for larger jets, its country head said.

Engines built by GE Aerospace and partner Safran power about 60% of India’s 700 plus commercial planes, according to data from aviation analytics company Cirium. But most of them are narrowbody jets, which largely cater to domestic travel.

Airlines in India, a country of 1.4 billion people, still have just 50 widebody planes deployed for long-haul travel, something GE sees changing as more Indians splurge on travel.

“There’s clearly a need for more widebody aircraft,” Vikram Rai, GE Aerospace’s country head for India and Indonesia told Reuters, adding it would be “the next path of growth”.

GE estimates by 2030 India’s international passenger traffic will hit 125 million from 70 million in 2019. Over the same period, India’s middle-class population is seen rising to 700 million from around 450 million, spurring demand.

“That is more than the population of the U.S., which has 5,500-6,000 commercial aircraft in service, as against 700 for India. So, there is room for significant growth,” Rai said.

GE’s bullish outlook for India comes after a recent record deal to supply 800 fuel-efficient LEAP engines for 400 Air India narrowbody jets, part of a mega plane order. GE will also supply engines for 30 of the 70 widebody planes on order.

This comes on top of an order pipeline for IndiGo’s 500 Airbus narrowbody planes and a deal to power startup airline Akasa’s 72 Boeing aircraft – giving GE a stranglehold on India’s narrowbody jet market.

GE’s dominance has also been cemented by engine reliability issues at rival Pratt & Whitney that have forced Indian carriers to ground dozens of planes and pushed airlines like IndiGo, the country’s largest, to switch suppliers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants aerospace and defence to become key engines to drive the world’s fifth-largest economy, and companies like Airbus and Boeing have recently committed to more local manufacturing and investment.

GE is also strengthening its supply chain and manufacturing in the country where, among other investments, it builds engine parts with Tata Group for export to its global factories. In November, it renewed its $1 billion contract with the Indian giant.

While Rai declined to share an outlook on future investments, he said GE’s spending on components in India had increased 20 times in the last five years, adding it was a “strategic market for GE Aerospace”.


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