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DGCA asks Go First for flight resumption plan

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Summary

Go First has 30 days to submit a comprehensive plan to resume normal flight operations. The airline has been asked to provide information on operational aircraft, pilots and maintenance arrangements, as well as details of its working capital and arrangements with aircraft lessors and vendors

NEW DELHI : The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has directed bankrupt budget carrier Go First to submit a comprehensive plan for resuming normal flight operations within 30 days.

“DGCA has advised the airline on 24 May 2023 to submit within a period of 30 days a comprehensive restructuring plan for a sustainable revival of operations," the civil aviation ministry said on Thursday.

The airline has been asked to furnish, among others, status of availability of operational aircraft fleet, required post holders, pilots and other personnel, and maintenance arrangements, the ministry said.

The civil aviation regulator has also asked the Wadia Group-backed carrier to submit details about its working capital, and its arrangements with aircraft lessors and other vendors for sustainable flight operations.

“The revival plan once submitted by Go First shall be reviewed by DGCA for further appropriate action in the matter," the ministry added.

Responding to a showcause notice dated 8 May by DGCA, Go First on Tuesday indicated its intent to resume flights but shied away from providing a definite timeline.

“Go First has requested that they may be allowed to use the moratorium period to prepare a comprehensive restructuring plan for restarting operations," the ministry said. The plan for resumption of flights is to be presented to the DGCA for requisite regulatory approvals, it added.

Go First was given 15 days to respond in the 8 May notice to explain the reasons behind its inability to continue operations. The fate of its flying permit also depends on the airline submitting a detailed plan for resuming flights to the regulator and receiving approval from the DGCA.

“The revival plan once submitted by Go First shall be reviewed by DGCA for further appropriate action in the matter," the ministry added.

The validity of an air operator certificate or flying permit to an airline is conditional to an airline company operating flights with a minimum of five aircraft in its fleet. While Go First still has the requisite number of aircraft in its fleet, the Mumbai-based airline suspended operations from 3 May after voluntarily filing for insolvency in the National Company Law Tribunal on 2 May.

In the NCLT petition, the airline has blamed engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney for unserviceable engines, resulting in 30-50% grounded fleet since 2020, causing losses to the tune of 10,800 crore in revenue loss and additional expenses.

Meanwhile, the airline continues to be involved in another legal case against its aircraft lessors. Four aircraft lessors had approached the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) challenging the NCLT order dated 10 May which admitted Go First’s insolvency plea thus triggering immediate moratorium. The moratorium froze the airline’s assets and the aircraft in its fleet while the lessors have been seeking recovery of their aircraft.

In its latest communication with the employees, Go First informed them that the Indian government is supporting the airline in resolving the Pratt & Whitney engine issues. The airline also assured the staff that April salaries will be credited before flight operations resume.

“As part of the readiness programme, you have been planned for a four-hour refresher on monsoon operations, performance etc. DGCA will be conducting an audit to check our preparedness in the coming days," the airline told the employees.

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