India's Akasa Air signs $4.5 billion deal with engine maker CFM International

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FILE PHOTO: Investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala poses for a picture in his office in Mumbai

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Indian ultra low-cost airline Akasa Air said on Wednesday it signed an agreement with CFM International for its LEAP-1B engines in a deal valued at nearly $4.5 billion at list price to power the 737 MAX airplanes it recently bought.

The agreement comes after billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed Akasa Air placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 MAX jets on Tuesday, valued at nearly $9 billion at list prices.

Jhunjhunwala, known as "India's Warren Buffett", has teamed up with former chief executives of IndiGo, the country's biggest carrier, and Jet Airways to tap into demand for domestic air travel, which is nearing pre-pandemic levels as the country recovers from a devastating outbreak earlier this year.

The agreement also includes spare engines and long-term services, the companies said in a joint statement.

The LEAP-1B engine entered into service on the Boeing 737 MAX in 2017, and over 2.5 million engine flight hours have been logged, the companies added.

SNV Aviation, which will fly under the Akasa Air brand, expects to begin operations next year after getting initial clearance from the civil aviation ministry to launch the country's latest ultra-low cost carrier.

(Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru and Aditi Shah in New Delhi; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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