Air India is looking to raise loans worth USD 535 million to finance acquisition of three Boeing planes, including two aircraft that will be used for ferrying VVIPs, a senior airline official said. Late in the evening, an Air India spokesperson confirmed the PTI report that the two aircraft will be used for VVIP travel. However, the disinvestment-bound carrier has reduced the required loan amount by around USD 20 million in less than three weeks after floating a tender where it had sought loan up to USD 555 million for buying the three aircraft. The delivery of three B777-300 ER planes is scheduled to be completed in February next year, with two expected to be bought in January. Issuing a revised tender, the airline has solicited interest from lenders for loan worth up to USD 535 million, for which two separate term sheets would be inked. At current exchange rates, the loan would be to the tune of around Rs 3,460 crore. Out of three aircraft, two are to be acquired in January 2018 and those would be for the use of VVIPs, the official said. After making required modifications, the two planes would join the fleet that are generally used to carry President, Vice President and Prime Minister, the official added. As per the purchase agreement with Boeing, Air India is to buy 15 B777-300 ER aircraft and it has already taken delivery of 12 such planes. The spokesperson said that Air India had placed an order with Boeing for 68 aircraft in 2005. “These B777-300 ER airplanes are the last of the three aircraft to be delivered. They are being delivered on January 18 and February 18 by Boeing. “Out of these three airplanes, two will be used by government for VVIP travel,” the spokesperson said in a statement. He also said the airline has floated a tender for financing these aircraft through bridge finance.
According to the revised tender document, one term sheet would be for two aircraft that are to be delivered in January next year and the loan amount required is up to USD 400 million. The figure translates to around USD 200 million for each plane. For the remaining aircraft, a separate term sheet would be inked for a loan of up to USD 135 million. The specific reasons for revising downwards the proposed loan amount to USD 535 million from USD 555 million could not be immediately ascertained. “The facility should be a direct loan without the requirement for formation of a special purpose vehicle structure which requires title transfer,” the tender document said. Air India has said that the Government of India has indicated that they would issue its guarantee for the bridge financing of B777-300 ER aircraft for a period of 12 months or till the date the loan is refinanced whichever is earlier. No commitment fee would be paid to the bidder and that the “pre-payment/ short closure of the bridge loan should be allowed without any extra cost” to the airline, it added.
In 2005, Air India placed orders with Boeing for 68 aircraft — 27 Dreamliners, 15 B777-300 ERs, eight B777-200 LRs and 18 B737-800s. Of these, the state-run carrier has already taken the delivery of 65 planes. At present, the flagship airline has a fleet of 115 aircraft. The B777-300 ER aircraft owned by Air India has 342 seats for passengers.