Air india
Air India plans to curb pilots from moving to other airlines by charging a huge surety bond. Picture: Air India [Representational Image]Reuters

Debt-ridden Air India has reportedly sold nine of its 21 Dreamliner planes, raising Rs 7,000 crore from the transaction, which it wants to use towards repayment of a loan availed to buy those planes.

The state-owned carrier has sold the planes to a Singaporean lessor and took the planes from the same company under a Sale and Lease Back (SLB) arrangement.

The carrier will use a significant part of the funds raised from the sale to repay a bridge loan took earlier to buy these Boeing 787-800s.

However, under an SLB arrangement, the airline can lease the planes from the buyer and continue using them. In a similar agreement earlier, the airline had sold 12 Dreamliners and leased them back.

"Air India has sold all the nine Dreamliners to one Singaporean lessor for a little over Rs 7,000 crore. These planes have now been taken back on lease by the same firm," sources close to the developments told PTI.

Air India will use nearly Rs 6,000 crore to repay a bridge loan and the remaining funds will be used for other purposes, sources said.

Currently, Air India has a debt of around Rs.40,000 crore, as it took loans for purchase of aircraft and working capital requirements. Its current fleet consists of 131 aircraft, which includes Boeing, Airbus, ATR and CRJ planes.

Air India, which currently holds a fifth of the market share in domestic passenger traffic, has been making losses for years and has come under severe criticism for escalating costs.

The airline is expected to post a profit of Rs 6 crore for the current fiscal year after recording a loss of Rs.5,547.47 crore in the previous year. It revenues stood at Rs.19,781 crore in the last fiscal year ending 31 March 2015.

In August, Ashwani Lohani, a 1980 batch Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME) officer, was appointed as the new chief of ailing Air India. He will be the chairman and managing director of Air India for three years.

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