Air India will sell and lease back five of its new Dreamliners as part of cost-cutting measures and save substantial sums to pay off the bridge loans it has taken against these aircraft, official sources said.
The national carrier has issued a tender inviting bids for the sale and leaseback of five Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, which were delivered between August 26 last year and January 28 this year, the bid document said.
Leaseback, short for sale-and-leaseback, is a financial transaction where one sells an asset and leases it back for the long-term. Hence, one continues to use the asset but no longer owns it.
Air India has fixed a reserve purchase price of USD 116 million for an aircraft and bids below this amount would not be considered, the document said, adding that the airline would sell the five planes and immediately lease them back for a period of 12 years with an option to extend the lease.
The national carrier has so far taken delivery of 14 of these aircraft and concluded leaseback arrangement for the first seven of those. It had ordered 27 of these fuel- efficient planes in January 2006 from its US manufacturer.
Airline officials, while leasing the previous lot of seven Dreamliners, had estimated that the company would earn over $800 million through that sale.
This time round, the airline is expecting to raise over $600 million by way of selling the five aircraft, they said, adding that the amount would be used to pay off the bridge loans taken against these planes apart from other operational requirements.
The officials also said that the Boeing 787s have given positive results on routes on which the airline was incurring cash losses as the fuel burn on these aircraft was 15 per cent less than that for Boeing 777s.
Air India last year sold five of its Boeing 777-200 (Long Range) planes to Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad for about $350 million.