Thursday, October 13, 2016

Air India loans dip by a third to Rs 14,000 cr

NATIONAL carrier Air India has reduced its aircraft-related loans by Rs 6,000 crore, which now stand at Rs 14,000 crore against Rs 20,000 crore at the end of FY16. Airline officials were quoted as telling a leading financial daily that the airline paid back Rs 6,000 crore of bridge loans recently from the proceeds of sale and lease-back of its nine Dreamliner aircraft, which was conducted at the end of August.
This is the first sale and lease back transaction...
of Air India without the guarantee of US Export and Import Bank (EXIM).
The transaction was carried with the guarantee from the government of India and attracted an internal rate of return below three percent due to the improving financials of the company.
The participants in the transaction were Deutsche Bank, Bank of India, Export Import Bank of India and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).
“We are happy that this was the first transaction of Air India with the participation of the EXIM bank of India and without the presence of the EXIM bank of United States. Our aircraft related debt will come down but the aircraft rentals will increase as a result of the sale and lease back,” a senior AI official was quoted as telling the daily.
In a related development, the Maharaja conducted the sale and lease back of two more of it Dreamliner for Rs 22.5 crore which was mandated by the First Gulf Bank. This was for the first time that an investment bank from the Gulf region financed the purchase of the aircraft.
Air India reported an operating profit of `108 crore for the first time in FY16 after its merger with Indian Airlines. According to sources the audited results will be approved by its board of directors at a meeting next week.
During the April-June quarter, Air India reported a passenger growth of 11.5% to 9.575 million. The passenger load factor increased to 81.4% from 78.7% with a capacity increase of 7.3% on account of better utilisation.
The airline has approached the government to convert `10,500 crore worth of long term debt into non-convertible debentures. The management is expected to complete the process within the current fiscal.
Air India has Rs 4,500 crore of interest liability every year. As a result of the conversion of the long term debt in to non-convertible debentures, the airline can save 2 to-2.5 percent of the interest cost. The Union government has so far pumped in more than R22,000 crore in Air India in the past three years out of the R30,000 crore turnaround plan approved by it. According to the data available with DGCA, the national carrier had a market share of 14.6% in August 2016.

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