Air India sells 9 Dreamliners, garners Rs7,000 cr

Air India has garnered up Rs7,000 crore by selling nine of its 21 Boeing Dreamliner planes to a Singaporean lessor and taking them back on lease from the company under a sales and lease-back arrangement.

A major chunk of these funds will go into repaying the bridge loan availed of earlier for purchasing these Boeing 787-800s, airline sources said.

Under a sale and lease back arrangement, the seller of an asset leases it back from the purchaser for a long-term period and continues to use it without actually owning it.

Air India has 131 aircraft in its fleet, consisting of Boeing, Airbus and ATR planes as well as CRJs. Of these, 21 are Boeing 787-800s. Earlier also, the flag carrier had sold and leased back 12 Dreamliners under a similar arrangement.

"Air India has sold all the nine Dreamliners to one Singaporean lessor for a little over Rs7,000 crore. These planes have now been taken back on lease from the same firm," Air India sources told PTI.

Sources said that of the total proceeds, about Rs6,000 crore will be used for repayment of the bridge loan taken against these planes at the time of acquisition while the remaining Rs1,000 crore will be utilised for other purposes.

The airline is saddled with a debt of about Rs40,000 crore that includes a long-term loan taken for aircraft purchase and working capital loan. It has accumulated a loss of close to Rs30,000 crore. The airline, however, is expected to report around Rs6 crore operating profit this financial year.

These nine B 787-800s were inducted into the national carrier's fleet between March 2014 and June this year.

Air India had last month invited bids from domestic and international banks /financial institutions to sell these planes.

The airline had fixed a reserve price of not less than $123 million for the planes acquired in 2015 and $120 million for the aircraft inducted in the fleet during 2014.

As part of its fleet expansion plan, the national carrier had in 2006 placed orders with Boeing for 68 aircraft- 27 Dreamliners, 15 B777-300ERs, eight B777-200LRs and 18 B-737- 800s.

Surviving on a Rs30,000 crore bailout package from the parent, the government of India, Air India had reported a net loss of Rs5,547.47 crore in the last fiscal on the back of total revenues of Rs19,781 crore.