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Aviation – India and the World: News and Views

Air India Mopped up Rs 7,000 cr by selling 9 of its 21 Dreamliners under SLB

Air India has mopped up Rs 7,000 crore by selling 9 of its 21 Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes to a Singaporean lessor, which it has taken back on lease from the company under a Sale and Lease Back (SLB)  arrangement. A major chunk of these funds will go into repayment of the bridge loan availed earlier for purchasing these Boeing 787-800s, airline sources told news agencies.

Under this system, 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

Adopting the sale and lease-back route, debt-ridden Air India has raised almost Rs 7,000 crore by selling nine of its 21 Dreamliners to a Singapore-based lessor and then leasing the planes from it. Earlier, AI had sold and leased back 12 Dreamliners. 

About Rs 6,000 crore raised from this deal will be used to reduce the airline's aircraft purchase loans. 

As reported earlier, AI has a combined aircraft purchase and working capital loan of Rs 40,000 crore, apart from accumulated losses of Rs 30,000 crore. (See Air India)

The company availed a Rs.30,000 crore bailout package from the Government of India. That is, the country's law abiding tax paying citizens' money acted as the life saver for Air India. It reported a net loss of Rs.5,547.47 crore in the last fiscal.

These 9 planes had joined AI between March 2014 and June 2015. AI had fixed a reserve price of not less than $123 million for planes acquired in 2015 and $120 million for the aircraft inducted in the fleet during 2014. 

When Dreamliner had started joining the airline from September, 2012, it could not land in winter dense fog in either Delhi or the European cities. It operated for the last three winters. This time, however, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has certified AI's dreamliner to operate under category 3B of instrument landing system (ILS). which means it can land when visibility is about 100 metres. 

Meanwhile, the DGCA has certified the Airbus fleet of Vistara and AirAsia India to operate using Category II ILS.