Monday, July 24, 2023

Go First Clears The First Hurdle To Take To The Skies Again

Indian aviation is not for the faint-hearted, but there is value in operating in this market which has so much potential. Only 4-5% of India’s population currently flies, and the country is well on its way to becoming one of the top three markets around the globe for aviation. In this context, we have seen quite a few airlines calling it a day over the past decade. Kingfisher, Jet Airways, and now Go First. However, for the first time, we might see a reversal of fate as well.

Go First cancelled all its flights and filed for voluntary bankruptcy on May 2. Since that day, the airline has lost its pilots and other staff members, many of whom have gone on to join other airlines, and it has almost lost its aircraft as well, with many lessors having served notices to deregister their aircraft from Go First.

There is an ongoing case right now about the legality of a moratorium imposed on aircraft which are not owned by Go First, and on which the lessors had already filed IDERA notices for repossessing them before the National Corporate Law Tribunal accepted Go First’s Insolvency petition. There are 30 aircraft involved in this lawsuit, and Go First’s website states that they have a total of 59 aircraft in their fleet.

After much back and forth, the DGCA conducted a special audit of Go First, trying to establish if they should be given the go-ahead to relaunch operations. On an overall basis, the DGCA determined that Go First did not have enough pilots, engineers and trainers to restart operations at the levels it envisioned. DGCA also stated that Go First did not have enough specially trained pilots for some of the high-altitude airfields that it intended to operate military charters to such as those to Leh and Thoise.

Go First has since scaled down its plans, offering to restart with 114 flights to be operated by 15 aircraft. This is the plan that has been approved but with many riders by the DGCA. This will put them behind Akasa or SpiceJet in terms of the size of the operation.

Even though Go First has been given the green light to restart operations, there are riders involved. First and foremost, it cannot operate the 30 aircraft which are still being contended for at the Delhi High Court till there is specific permission to do so. However, it is now responsible for the maintenance of these aircraft twice a month, under orders from the Delhi High Court. 

24/07/2023 Ajay Awtaney/BQ Prime

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