Many of the deals were signed at Asian Aerospace, the region's largest air show, which began on Tuesday in Singapore with more than 930 exhibitors from 43 countries hunting new customers in briskly expanding markets such as China and India.

The buying spree illustrates the remarkable growth of India's aviation sector, which has charted a passenger growth rate of between 25-30% in recent years, thanks partly to rising incomes in the country's 300 million-strong middle class.

Budget airline SpiceJet signed a deal on Tuesday here to buy 10 Boeing jets worth around $700 million.

"We think that this new order reflects the rapid growth in the Indian market, most of which is captured by low-cost carriers," said Ajay Singh, SpiceJet's director.

Big orders

Boeing Co's rival, Airbus, also finalised a deal in New Dehli on Monday to sell 43 jets to state-owned domestic carrier, Indian, for $2.5 billion.

Under the deal, Indian - which changed its name to simply 'Indian' in December from Indian Airlines - will purchase A320 and A319 airplanes. The deal had been in development for some time, and was signed in the presence of Jacques Chirac, the French president, and Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, who met in New Delhi.

The rivalry between Chicago-based Boeing and Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, is being watched closely.

"We think that this new order reflects the rapid growth in the Indian market, most of which is captured by low-cost carriers" 

Ajay Singh,
Director, SpiceJet

Airbus said it would make a "suppliers announcement" later on Wednesday in Singapore, but details were not immediately available.

Separately on Tuesday, General Electric Co said in New Delhi its aviation division signed a $2 billion deal with state-run Air India in Singapore for engines to be used in 23 Boeing aircraft that Air India previously ordered.

Meanwhile, Jet Airways, another Indian airline, ordered GE engines worth $300 million, while Indian signed a deal worth $500 million for engines from CFM International, a joint company between General Electric and France's Snecma.

India's air force is also a much-desired shopper, as it is expected to seek proposals soon from manufacturers to buy 126 new fighter jets that could be worth at least $8 billion.

India is believed to be looking at Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornets, US defence contractor Lockheed Martin Corp's F-16 Fighting Falcons, French Mirages, Swedish Gripens and Russia's Sukhoi fighters.

More than 27,000 trade representatives are expected to visit this year's Asian Aerospace, which runs through Sunday and ranks third globally behind shows held in alternating years in Paris and Farnborough, outside London.