The already strained relations between India and AgustaWestland on the back of its stalled purchase of 12 VVIP-roled AW101 helicopters look set to worsen after it was revealed that three of the aircraft originally destined for New Delhi have now been sold to "other customers".
Speaking to analysts during an 8 November results call, Alessandro Pansa, chief executive of AgustaWestland parent Finmeccanica, said although it is still engaged in arbitration with the Indian government, it has moved to mitigate against any potential financial loss. "If the contract goes ahead we will produce more helicopters," he said. "But the three helicopters which are in our warehouse have recently been sold."
Pansa did not detail the new customers for the aircraft, however.
So far only three AW101s have been handed over to the Indian air force – which "are flying without any technical problems", says Pansa – but the remainder are in various stages of completion at its Yeovil, UK, site.
Its full-year 2013 accounts will show a cash outflow of €400m ($536 million) against the contract, having already paid suppliers for their work on the helicopters.
The arbitration process will continue, says Pansa, and will "show the next different steps in the next weeks and months".
Ultimately, he believes the ongoing investigations in both Italy and India – which claimed the job of his predecessor, Giuseppe Orsi, and that of former AgustaWestland chief executive Bruno Spagnolini – will deliver "an acknowledgement of the correctness of our behaviour with respect to the contract".