Air India is looking to raise loans worth $535 million to finance the acquisition of three Boeing planes, including two aircraft that will be used for ferrying VVIPs, a senior airline official said.
However, the disinvestment-bound carrier has reduced the required loan amount by around $20 million in less than three weeks after floating a tender where it had sought up to $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 a loan worth up to $535 million, for which two separate term sheets will be inked. At current exchange rate, the loan will be to the tune of Rs 3,460 crore.
The official said out of the three aircraft, two would be acquired in January 2018. After making the required modifications, the two planes would join the fleet used to carry the President, Vice President and Prime Minister, the official added.
As per the purchase agreement with Boeing, Air India will buy 15 B777-300 ER aircraft and it has already taken delivery of 12 such planes. According to the revised tender document, one term sheet will be for two aircraft to be delivered in January next year and the loan amount required is up to $400 million, which translates to $200 million for each plane.
For the remaining aircraft, a separate term sheet will be inked for a loan of up to $135 million. The specific reasons for slashing the proposed loan amount to 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 the Centre had 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 2006, 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.