Tata-owned Air India has achieved a historic milestone as it successfully acquired India's first Airbus A350-900 aircraft through a finance lease transaction with HSBC through theGujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City). This is also the first wide-body aircraft to be leased through the GIFT City, the country's first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
According to the statement issued by the airline, the transaction was facilitated by its wholly-owned subsidiary AI Fleet Services Ltd (AIFS) and is also the first financing transaction from the orders for 470 aircraft that were made earlier this year.
Air India’s first A350-900 first widebody aircraft to be leased through IFSC
"Air India’s first A350-900 is also the first widebody aircraft to have been leased through India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC). The transaction was facilitated by AI Fleet Services Limited (AIFS), a 100 per cent subsidiary of Air India, and a GIFT IFSC-registered finance company," the airline said.
Air India, owned by the Tata Group and currently undergoing an ambitious transformation plan, anticipates that the first A350-900 aircraft will be delivered to India by the year's end.
“This landmark transaction marks the beginning of our aircraft leasing business from GIFT IFSC, as AIFS will be the primary Air India Group entity for widebody aircraft financing, playing a pivotal role in the future aircraft financing strategy for us and our subsidiaries," Nipun Aggarwal, Chief Commercial & Transformation Officer, Air India, said in the statement.
International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) Executive Director Dipesh Shah said it has been working with the stakeholders to develop regulatory enablers for aircraft leasing and financing. "The steps taken by Air India by establishing a finance company for the purpose of aircraft leasing and financing at IFSC will go a long way in developing IFSC as a preferred destination for aircraft leasing and financing in India as well as globally," he added.
Air India ordered six A350-900 planes
The airline has placed an order for six A350-900 aircraft, and delivery is planned for five of them by March 2024. In addition to these, the airline's confirmed orders for new aircraft consist of 34 A350-1000s, 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 10 Boeing 777Xs, 140 A320 neos, 70 A321 neos, and 190 Boeing 737MAXs.
In June this year, Air India entered into purchase agreements with Airbus and Boeing for the acquisition of these aircraft. Presently, Air India operates a fleet of 116 aircraft, which includes 49 wide-body planes. The total includes 27 B787-8s, 14 B777-300s, 8 B777-200LRs, 14 A319s, 36 A320 neos, 13 A321 ceos and 4 A321 neos.
Tata Group is currently in the process of streamlining its airline business. As part of this consolidation effort, AIX Connect is set to merge with Air India Express, and Vistara will merge with Air India. Vistara is a joint venture between Tatas and Singapore Airlines, which holds a 49 per cent stake in the carrier.
(With PTI inputs)