AI to raise bridge loan of $500 million for buying 4 Dreamliners

Expecting deliveries of five more Dreamliners between May and November, Air India plans to raise bridge loan of $500 million to finance the purchase of four of these aircraft and use them to launch flights to new destinations like Moscow, Rome and Milan.

The national carrier, which has already inducted 13 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, expects deliveries of two more such planes in May, while another three of the total 27 ordered are slated to be delivered by the US manufacturer Boeing in June, August and November.

The additional aircraft would enable Air India to operate to new cities like Moscow, Rome and Milan, senior airline officials said, adding they were awaiting certain approvals for the launch of these flights planned for later this year.

Intending to have a new fleet of 0-6 years of age, the officials said the company was also planning to re-issue a tender for leasing of 14 Airbus A-320 aircraft for a limited period.

These planes were being acquired in an all-economy configuration with 188 seats, in a bid to combat heightened competition on domestic routes.

The tender would be issued again as the carrier has not been able to get the requisite numbers of new aircraft for delivery next year, the officials said.

Air India was also reconfiguring its A-321 aircraft to reduce Business Class seats from 20 to 12 and increase Economy seating, the officials said, adding that four A-320s and six A-321s have already been reconfigured.

To mop up resources to stem its liabilities, Air India has also issued tenders to sell three Boeing 777-200 LRs (Long Range), four months after selling five of them to Abu Dhabi- based Etihad Airways. This sale had led the airline to reduce its debt burden by nearly $350 million, they said.

On the sale and leaseback of the Dreamliners, they said they have already received offers from lessors for five additional Boeing 787s, which were now being evaluated.

Air India had recently concluded such arrangements for its first seven Dreamliners -- four with UK-based Investec Bank and three with Deutsche Bank.

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

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