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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#SpiceJet: Struggling Indian budget carrier places multi-billion dollar Boeing order

Indian Budget airline SpiceJethas signed a deal with Boeing Co to buy 42 737 MAX jets in a deal worth $4.4 billion at list prices, the company said on Wednesday.

The order could help the loss-making Indian carrier, India's fourth-biggest airline by market share, as it seeks new investors.

Delivery of the new jets will begin in 2018, S.L. Narayanan, chief financial officer at SpiceJet's parent, Sun Group, told reporters at an Indian air show in Hyderabad.

Payments for the order will be closer to the delivery date, he said, declining to give further details on funding plans.

Narayanan said some payments for the latest order would be adjusted against the 12 Boeing 737 NG planes from an ongoing order SpiceJet will be swapping for 737 MAX.

SpiceJet, controlled by billionaire Kalanithi Maran's Sun Group, is seen as a target for investors after India relaxed restrictions on investment by foreign airlines.  It has reported interest from potential investors but has not named any.

The long-awaited fleet renewal and the possible stake sale have become intertwined, industry sources have said, with the airline seen as potentially more attractive once it gets the new jets.

Like its domestic rivals, SpiceJet has been losing money on the back of costly fuel and a weak rupee and India's fourth-biggest airline by domestic market share has eyed new planes and new investments to revive its fortunes.

Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft offer fuel savings compared to SpiceJet's existing fleet of current-generation Boeing 737s, industry sources said in January.

SpiceJet reported a quarterly loss in February, hit by high fuel costs and a weak local currency, and industry consultancy the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation estimates it is on course to post its biggest-ever annual loss.

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