Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) will likely transfer the ownership of four B747-400s, used for VIP transport, to its wholly-owned subsidiary Alliance Air (India) (9I, Mumbai Int'l) as a part of the state-owned carrier's ongoing privatisation process, CNBC TV18 has reported citing unnamed sources.

While the aircraft will be formally transferred to Alliance Air, Air India will continue to operate them until they are replaced by newer B777-300(ER)s, procured by the government, which are expected to deliver by the end of this year.

The transaction is part of a broader cleanup of Air India's assets as the government readies the carrier for its latest disposal drive. Unlike in 2018 where there were no takers for a 74% stake in the heavily-indebted carrier, this latest round will see 100% of Air India being offered up for sale.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Alliance Air currently operates one ATR42-300 and eighteen ATR72-600s on domestic routes in India.

The four B747-400s operated by Air India, which are between 23.2 and 26.2 years old, are used by the carrier on scheduled routes to Jeddah from Mumbai Int'l (via Hyderabad Int'l) and Kochi Int'l, the ch-aviation schedules module shows. They are available for the government when needed, although they are not equipped with a VIP seat configuration - each of them has 12 first class, 26 business class, and 385 economy class seats.

Flightradar24 ADS-B data indicates that VT-ESP (msn 27214) and VT-EVB (msn 28095) are currently used to run scheduled operations, while VT-ESO (msn 27165) and VT-EVA (msn 28094) are in storage. In 2019, only the latter two units were used for VIP transport.