New Indian Airline Orders 100 Airbus Jets for $6B

IndiGo, a new Indian budget airline, handed Airbus an order worth $6 billion at list prices for single-aisle aircraft on Thursday, bringing to $13 billion the value of Indian deals at the Paris Air Show (search).

The surprise order for 100 jets in the A320 family comes on top of major Indian announcements that have dominated the event held every two years, as more established markets limp out of a crippling industry recession which bottomed out last year.

Travel group InterGlobe Enterprises Limited (search) plans to launch IndiGo as a low-cost venture, entering the market in force with a nationwide network and a full fleet of jets, Airbus said.

Together with forecasts of rapid aviation growth in China, Airbus (search) says India is one of the world's most promising markets and predicts 100 million new consumers will become potential air travelers in the populous country by 2010.

Other deals include an order for A380 superjumbos and other aircraft from India's Kingfisher Airlines (search), an offshoot of the group which makes Kingfisher beer, and a split order from Jet Airways (search) for both Airbus planes and Boeings.

"India is starting a rapid economic expansion and we think air travel will be part of that," Airbus Chief Commercial Officer John Leahy told reporters.

Air travel tends to grow at twice the rate of GDP, he said.

First, however, the country needs to improve its civil aviation infrastructure, officials said at the Paris Air Show.

IndiGo's backing includes an investment from a seasoned airline executive, former U.S. Airways chief Rakesh Gangwal, Leahy said. Gangwal will also have a management role at IndiGo.

Gangwal, who has also held positions at United Airlines and Air France, is now Chairman and CEO of reservations service Worldspan Technologies.

Deliveries of IndiGo's planes will start late in 2006.

Airbus did not report an engine deal for the plane order.