Three resources are limited in aviation: planes, pilots and slots. Oh, and the money to bankroll an airline, of course. When Go First pulled the veil over its surprise (voluntary) insolvency petition, it hoped to enter a Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring akin to the US. However, a week later, it is still waiting for the NCLT to tell whether its petition has been admitted. That card opens today with the NCLT pronouncing its verdict on whether it will accept Go First’s petition. But in the meantime, Go First has played its hand, and it seems everyone wants out.
Other airlines, namely IndiGo and the Tata Group airlines want Go First aircraft.
We have already reported on how over 40 aircraft from GoFirst are now under the Irrevocable Deregistration (IDERA) process. After notification, within five days, these have to be deregistered from the Indian Register of Aircraft. While usually, aircraft are flown away and redelivered by the airline itself, in the case of India, there is enough local demand for these aircraft. With supply chain issues abound, all airlines do expect that their aircraft deliveries might be stuck sooner than later.
Also, when Jet Airways went under, the Indian regulator set a condition that only on the addition of additional capacity (read aircraft) would the other airlines be given additional slots vacated by Jet Airways. That led to Vistara adding a whole new sublet of Boeing 737 aircraft to their fleet.
Even for the lessors, while they can deregister the aircraft in India, taking the aircraft back from India is still quite the process. During the time of Jet Airways, the aviation authorities allowed for the plane to be redelivered on Indian soil itself rather than having to be exported and then imported again.
Given these moves, Indian airlines have started talking to these lessors to negotiate a deal to take over these aircraft. Bloomberg Business reports that IndiGo and the Tata Group have initiated conversations with the lessors (about a dozen of them now) to get additional capacity for themselves out of the roughly 40+ aircraft hoping to leave the Go First fleet.
There is just one catch. While IndiGo operates the same aircraft with the same Pratt & Whitney engine, it will be a fresh start for the Tata Group airline. Air India works with the CFM engines, so we need to see how quick the induction is if it goes through for them.
Go First Pilots want out, but the grounded airline wants them to serve a notice period.
The other prized asset hotly contested is the people flying these aircraft. Go First pilots and other folks want out, not wanting to wait to see the outcome of what will happen with the airline. Allegedly, some of them are owed over INR 1 Crore (USD 122K) in dues and has taken them to court as well. However, major airlines are trying to recruit these pilots to fill up their bench strength for expansion.
Both Reuters and The Times of India reported that over the weekend, recruitment drives came up across cities, not specifically targeted towards Go First pilots. Still, Air India received over 700 applications, many from Go First pilots.
On the other hand, the grounded airline, Go First, has told these pilots that if they intend to leave, they need to serve the mandatory notice period as per their contracts. It remains to be seen if that is tenable by law or will be enforced.
While Go First awaits its hearing from the NCLT, its aircraft and pilots are trying to get out of the airline as fast as possible. Other airlines are holding talks trying to arrive at a deal with the lessors to take over the aircraft and induct them in their fleets, while other carriers are also recruiting pilots.
What do you think will move the needle here? Will Go First be back from this?
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I have a GoFirst ticket Srinagar > Delhi on the 16th september 2023.
What should I do ?
Wait until the airline give me another flight, or ask now for a refund and book another airline myself ?
Thank you so much for your help.
@Gaspard, I don’t envisage this saga working out soon. Although As I type this there is a NCLT verdict to accept their insolvency petition. I’d advise you to rebook. Keep this ticket, and if they cancel it themselves, they refund you in full.
Am unable to understand one point here – if half of the planes are grounded for the want of new engines, how can they be given to other airlines or flown out of the country? What am I missing here?!
@Amit, maybe those aircraft are not being negotiated for and the ones which are airworthy are?