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Air India, which has floated bids for the sale of three Boeing 777-200 planes, today said it has kept the option open for leasing them out if it does not get suitable price for them.
The national carrier is offering to sell the three wide- body long haul planes or give them on dry-lease upto a period of ten years.
"We are open to both the options -- outright sale or lease. These planes are uncompetitive for us and there is no point keeping them in the fleet. If you don't get good prices for these planes, we are ready to put them on dry lease too," Air India officials said.
A dry lease for an aircraft is a lease that only provides the aircraft, while the flight crew and its maintenance and other issues are the responsibility of the lessee.
The state-run carrier had acquired eight Boeing 777-200 Long Range as part of its 68 planes ordered from the US aircraft maker Boeing in 2004.
"These planes were bought with US Exim bank funding with a repayment period of up to 12 years. So, if we are unable to sell them and put them on lease, the lease rentals will be utilised to pay back the loans against these aircraft," the sources said.
Of the eight B-777s, the airline has already sold out five to gulf carrier Etihad for Rs 2,100 crore this February, as against about Rs 11,200 crore it had spent to buy them. The planes are now being considered fuel-guzzlers and therefore uneconomical for the cash-strapped carrier.
The three 777-200 LRs, which are of 2009 make, are 235- seaters as against the industry practice of 290-300 seats. The idea was to operate them on ultra long-haul routes like Chicago, New York and Toronto, on premium fares, but that failed to materialize.