BENGALURU, India, (Reuters) - U.S. aircraft maker Sikorsky is in advanced talks with some Indian charter operators and other airlines for sales of its small passenger planes, one of its executives said on Wednesday.
Sikorsky, which is part of Lockheed Martin, is offering the M-28 turboprop passenger airplane that can seat up to 19 people and costs $6 million to $7 million for what it estimates is a regional market worth some $500 million.
India wants to boost regional aviation connectivity and reopen closed airports as part of its plans to improve passenger growth in one of the world's most competitive aviation markets.
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Arvind Walia, Sikorsky's regional executive for India and South Asia, said such connections would bring about 300 million people in India's smaller cities into the air travel market.
"We are in dialogue with potential operators for regional connectivity and it appears to us there is huge demand," Walia told Reuters on the sidelines of an air show in Bengaluru.
"There are some with whom talks are in a very advanced stage and there are some who have sought additional clarification," he said. He estimated demand for smaller planes at 80 over the next two years.
Meanwhile Dinesh Keskar, a senior vice president at Boeing said growth in India would come from the smaller airports and as more routes are added to the network this would drive demand for bigger jets.
(Reporting by Sweta Singh and Rachit Vats; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Alexander Smith)