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Global aviation giants fly to India airshow
09 Feb, 2011 11:10:27
BANGALORE, February 9, 2011 (AFP) - Global aeronautical companies laid out their stalls Wednesday in one of the world's hottest aviation markets, looking for a share of billions of dollars in Indian military and civilian contracts.
Aero India 2011 has drawn 675 firms and around 40 official delegations from 45 countries to the southern city of Bangalore, India's aeronautical capital.

The five-day airshow comes less than a month after Indian budget carrier Indigo agreed a $15.6-billion order for 180 A320 passenger aircraft with Europe's Airbus Industries.

Airbus rival Boeing Co. was among the heavyweights in a particularly strong US corporate contingent at the air show, which coincided with a visit to India by US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

"We are seeing explosive growth in India's civil aviation sector. India will be requiring more aircraft in the future, and US companies can provide fuel-efficient technologies which would help reduce fares in the country," Locke said in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Seattle-based Boeing Co. predicted Indian airlines could spend $130 billion dollars in the next two decades on acquisitions.

"We estimate India's annual passenger growth at 15 percent in the next five years will be the highest in the whole world," said Dinesh Keskar, president of Boeing's India subsidiary.

As well as the civilian aviation market, global manufacturers are greedily eyeing a raft of military contracts being offered as part of an ambitious upgrade of the Indian air force.

"Owing to the ongoing modernisation plans of its armed forces, India has become the focal point of global defence industry," Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in the run-up to the Bangalore show.

Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin Corp. and three other Western firms are all in the running for a $12 billion deal to sell 126 fighter jets to India. The much-awaited contract could to be finalised in July.

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