Air India to sell three Boeing 777s
Move to mop up resources to stem liabilities
New Delhi: Air India Ltd on Thursday declared its intent to sell three of its Boeing 777s for mopping up resources to stem its liabilities, barely four months after selling five of these planes to Gulf carrier Etihad Airways.
The airline offered three Boeing 777-200 long-range planes, powered with GE 90-110 engines, for outright sale through competitive global bidding, people in Air India familiar with the matter said a day after a meeting of its board in New Delhi.
The long-haul global routes flown by these aircraft would now be gradually replaced by Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which Air India is inducting at a steady pace. Thirteen of the 27 Dreamliners the airline has ordered have already joined the fleet.
The sale of five B-777s to Etihad in December last year was estimated to fetch over $335 million, which Air India plans to use to pay off its outstanding debt.
The three Boeing 777s being sold now have a seat capacity of 238, including eight first class and 35 business class seats.
While the commercial bids for these three five-year-old planes would be opened on 13 May, the technical bids would be opened at a later date, the people said.
As part of its turnaround plan, Air India is inducting the Dreamliners and going for a sale and leaseback arrangement to effect major savings. Under such an arrangement, the seller of an asset leases it back from the purchaser for a long-term and continues to use it.
The airline estimates it could raise about $840 million by selling seven Dreamliners and leasing them back. The money earned through the leaseback arrangement would be used to pay off the bridge loans taken against these aircraft.