As Go First prepares to resume operations, NCLT grants them rights to use leased aircraft and engines

I’ve been watching the Go First bankruptcy proceeding but have yet to say much about it because it has been a lot of legal tit-for-tat, not affecting the consumer. However, a few important things happened over the past few weeks, and I wanted to recap it in one post.

On May 2, 2023, Go First announced the cancellation of flights and their plan to file for insolvency given the ongoing Pratt & Whitney engine issues on their Airbus A320neo aircraft. On May 10, the NCLT imposed a moratorium and appointed an Interim Resolution Professional (IRP). On June 9, the Committee of Creditors (CoC) appointed Shailendra Ajmera as the Resolution Professional for Go First, which NCLT approved on June 15.

The RP presented the resumption plan to DGCA on June 28, following which a special audit of Go First facilities was conducted at Mumbai and Delhi from July 4-6, 2023. The audit focused on the safety-related aspects and continued compliance with the requirements by an operator to hold an Air Operator Certificate, as well as on the physical verification of the arrangements made for the resumption of flight operations.

DGCA accepts Go First’s Plans to resume operations

On July 21, DGCA accepted Go First’s resumption plan for starting 114 flights with 15 aircraft after making initial observations. The nod from the DGCA was subject to any outcome of the writ petitions/applications pending before the Delhi High Court and NCLT about its restart and any matters that may affect the restart.

Go First may resume scheduled flight operations on the availability of interim funding and approval of flight schedules by DGCA. Further, Go First has been directed to ensure compliance with all the applicable regulatory requirements, ensure the continued airworthiness of the aircraft engaged in operations and subject every aircraft to a satisfactory handling flight prior to deployment for flight operations.

Go First initiates handling flights.

Go First, after receiving this permission from the NCLT, initiated the process of operating handling flights, which essentially are perhaps to check if the aircraft is in good order and in a condition to operate flights. The first of these flights was done on July 25, 2023, with the aircraft registered as VT-WGD.a plane on the tarmac

After the first test run, Go First tweeted, hoping to be back in the skies soon.

NCLT order allows for 14 aircraft and 11 engines to stay as a part of the fleet during the moratorium

Yesterday, the NCLT passed an order, which essentially rejected the claims of certain lessors, and refused to restrain Go First from using leased aircraft for their operations. The tribunal noted that the aircraft are essential to keep Go First as a going concern company.

According to the NCLT,

The DGCA has not deregistered the aircraft, which means that they are available to Go First for use to resume operations. Therefore, as long as the aircraft/engines are registered, they can be used for operating or flying to keep Go First as a going concern, however, within the safeguards/safety norms prescribed by the regulators.

The NCLT also dismissed the plea by lessors to inspect their aircraft and engine and held that they (NCLT) had directed the Resolution Professional (RP) to maintain the same. It is important to note that not all lessors had moved for relief, and overall, this order was granted on the back of applications made by five lessors who had leased, in total, 14 aircraft and eleven spare engines to Go First. 

On July 12, a two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court refused to entertain an appeal by Go First’s Resolution Professional (RP) challenging a previous order that had allowed lessors to conduct inspections of 30 aircraft and their parts at regular intervals. The court upheld the decision, granting the lessors permission to conduct checks regularly. So, this NCLT order runs counter to the Delhi High Court order. 

On August 3, the Delhi High Court will hear applications by lessors against DGCA to deregister their aircraft. The DGCA has, for now, kept their applications in abeyance. The NCLT will now meet on August 4, 2023, to hear applications by the lessors to exempt them from the moratorium, as they had terminated lease agreements beforehand. 


Go First seems to have the full support of the NCLT in bringing back the airline as a “going concern”. There have already been Expression of Interest for the sale of the airline to bidders invited. If the airline is operational, the process becomes easier. But the airline still needs the lessors’ and airports’ support to hand back the slots to take to the air again.

What do you make of Go First’s plans to resume operation, and what are your thoughts about their second coming?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Thanks for the update Ajay.

    What’s your take on the issue of the original NCLT-imposed moratorium? Doesn’t this – and subsequent proceedings thereafter – run counter to our commitments under the Cape Town Convention?

    If the lessors can’t get their assets back, I worry it would lead to a higher risk premium assigned to all airlines in India and therefore lead to higher lease rentals and fares for all of us.

    • @amandeep, I am more a generalist, but what I can understand from talking to legal eagles is that lease premiums will go up if risk assessment goes up.I don’t think though that will apply to the likes of IndiGo and Air India, but rather other start-up airlines. How it affects fares is anyone’s guess.

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