In a major bid to shore up its falling revenues, cash-strapped Air India has floated a global tender for the sale of six Boeing 737 freighters, virtually bringing the curtains down on its plan to launch a dedicated cargo service.
The state-owned airline has already offered to lease out five of its eight Boeing 777-200 planes for 8-10 years and decided to go for sale and leaseback of the first seven Boeing 787 Dreamliners it is expected to receive till June this year.
The six 30-year old Boeing 737-200 freighters, which are up for sale on 'as is, where is' basis, belong to the erstwhile Indian Airlines. Three of these planes were earlier operating postal charters for the India Post.
These passenger planes were converted into cargo carriers in 2007 when the airline had planned to launch a pan-India cargo service using Nagpur as the hub.
Air India later shelved the plan due to financial crisis and was considering selling off these planes since early 2010. It had earlier sold off four Airbus A-310 freighters.
Besides these freighters, the global tender also includes the intention to sell eight aircraft engines, four auxiliary power units, aircraft seats and spares.
The Technical Bids, which would be based on the highest bid (H1), would be opened on February eight, airline sources said today.
The global tender was floated ahead of a meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) and the Union Cabinet to finalise infusion of additional equity of an estimated Rs 6,600 crore.
Both the GoM and the Cabinet are expected to review the steps being taken by the ailing national carrier to enhance revenues and check its mounting debt.