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Air India puts together 'huge financing deal' for new fleet: CEO

Air India puts together 'huge financing deal' for new fleet: CEO
Air India has put together a "huge financing deal" related to its new fleet in a remarkably quick time, according to its chief Campbell Wilson. On February 14, Air India announced a historic order for buying 470 aircraft, including 250 from Airbus and 220 from Boeing. Besides, there is an option to buy another 370 planes from the two plane makers.

It was also the first time in more than 17 years that Air India, which was taken over by Tata Group from the government in January last year, placed orders for new planes.

In his weekly message to the staff on Friday, Wilson said he wants to commend "the commercial, strategic procurement, finance, treasury and legal teams for successfully putting together a huge financing deal related to our new fleet in remarkably quick time...it was another historic achievement for the new Air India".

Specific details could not be immediately ascertained.

Wilson, in an interview with PTI last month, said that a lot of money is being invested in the airline.

"Tata Group Air India has invested at a list price of USD 70 billion for the 470 aircraft. That is with the explicit purpose of providing more services, especially international connectivity. We ultimately do that for many reasons and one reason is that we get economic returns from that investment.

"I think, if the traffic is siphoned off throughout the places, just makes it more and more difficult for us to have non-stop services and ultimately, customer loses as they will not have any option of non-stop service," he had said.

The response was to a query related to bilateral flying rights.

The order for 470 planes comprises 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777-9s wide-body aircraft as well as 210 Airbus A320/321 Neos and 190 Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle aircraft.

In the message, Wilson -- CEO and Managing Director -- also mentioned the diversion of the AI 173 Mumbai-San Francisco flight this week and about the handling of the situation. He said it was a "team Air India effort".

"From the affected crew and onboard staff helping stranded customers on the ground, to the engineering, flight ops, inflight services, insurance and other folk preparing and operating the relief flight.

"From our customer service and communications teams assisting customers and engaging media, to our government and regulatory teams keeping their counterparts informed, and everyone else who played a role," he said.

On June 6, AI 173 operating from Delhi to San Francisco carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew on board was diverted to the Magadan port city in far east Russia following a mid-air glitch in one of the Boeing 777-200LR aircraft engines. All were stranded in the port city for two days and the replacement aircraft ferried them to San Francisco on June 8.

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