Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Besides engines, Go First has to worry about eroded credibility

Grounded airline Go First received some positive developments over the past few days about its plans to get airborne again, convincing flyers to fly with it again and releasing funds owed to the customers are among the biggest challenges for the beleaguered company.

The crisis-hit Wadia group promoted airline, which is aiming to start operations under the protection of the courts, owes Rs 800-1000 crore to customers who had confirmed bookings on flights which it cancelled from early May onwards.

Travel agencies who have worked with Go First for several years appear reluctant to do business with the airline again. They said that though additional seats in a capacity-constrained market would be a welcome step, flyers would be apprehensive of flying with them again.

Madhavan Menon, executive chairman, Thomas Cook India, said, “Go First will need to convincingly win back the trust of passengers and travel companies like us before making plans for a successful revival. My customers’ interest is primary. Till Go Air can convince us that they will operate in a sustained manner, I don’t see demand for their seats coming back.”

On July 21, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) gave its nod to Go First to resume flight operations, subject to fulfilment of 10 conditions. Earlier this month, the Singapore Arbitration Tribunal directed Pratt & Whitney (P&W) to provide five aircraft engines to Go First every month starting August 1.

“They have extended the period for flight cancellation six times. Unless I have confidence, I will not give it to my customer. At the end of the day my reputation lies with my customer, not Go Air’s,” Menon added.

Besides leading to a surge in airfares amid an on-going peak travel season, the sudden grounding of all flights from May 3 of more than 30 aircraft of Go First led to large scale confusion among airline’s customers who were left high and dry by it and the travel agents.

26/07/2023  Swaraj Baggonkar/Financial Express

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