Paramount snippets

At a time when airlines are struggling to survive the ongoing financial crisis, Chennai-based Paramount Airways is busy firming up major plans for its international foray in 2011. The airline is in talks with both Airbus and Boeing for their most advanced upcoming aircraft—A-350 and B-787 Dreamliner. The aircraft majors have already sent proposals for their aircraft, with the Dreamliner expected to be in operation by 2011 and the A-350 a couple of years later.“We are making our international route strategy. We’ll use a version of Embraer (the aircraft paramount uses currently) for short haul flights and weighing the option of the Dreamliner and A-350 for all other international routes,” Paramount MD M Thiagarajan said.Interestingly, unlike all other Indian airlines the deeppocketed ownership of Paramount is not looking at the option of divesting stake to fund its well over $2-billion capex plan for next three years. The airline currently has a fleet of five Embraers and will get four more this year. Then 30 more planes will join over next three years. Given a list price of nearly $40 million per plane, the aircraft acquisition alone is in range of $1.5-2 billion. “Divesting is not on the cards. The aircraft acquisition will be met by internal accruals and innovative funding options available to us like financial leases and the Exim Bank,” Thiagarajan said. In addition, the airline is all set to launch its first maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) for Embraer aircraft in India by the year-end at a cost of nearly $35-40 million. “We have to choose between Madurai and Chennai and will go in for a partnership with Embraer that could be financial or technical. Embraer is looking at this MRO not just for our planes but for all Embraers in the region. Currently these planes go to Portugal for maintenance. This project too will be funded by internal promoter resources,” airline’s CEO said.

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