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Business News/ News / India/  Told P&W cannot have multiple planes on ground: Scindia

Told P&W cannot have multiple planes on ground: Scindia

The ministry has been working on to bridge the gap between the demand for air travel and supply of capacity after the suspension of Go First

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.Premium
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

NEW DELHI : With Go First filing for insolvency due to engines issues, the Indian government today reiterated to the engine manufacturer that the country needs to activate the grounded fleet. 

"There are a number of engines that are on the ground. As a minister, I cannot get into contractual issues, certainly we have impressed upon them (Pratt & Whitney) that we need to have our planes up and running. We cannot have multiple planes from one engine manufacturer on the ground in India, which is the case today unfortunately," Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia told reporters on the sidelines of curtain raiser event for Wings India 2024. 

The Wadia Group-backed airline filed for voluntary insolvency on 2 May and suspended operations from 3 May due to unviable financial health. The carrier blamed US-based engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney for supplying unserviceable engines and not delivering sufficient engines to activate its entire fleet. The airline has 54 aircraft in its fleet, out of which over 90% are powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. 

In India, currently 147 aircraft out of 655 aircraft across major Indian airlines are grounded due to multiple reasons including shortage of engines, spare parts and financial issues. Out of this, approximately 94 aircraft of IndiGo and Go First, which are powered by Pratt & Whitney, are currently grounded due to shortage of engines. 

Go First has stated in its NCLT filing that the airline has seen grounding of 30-50% of its fleet since 2020 leading to losses of 10,800 crore in lost revenues and additional expenses. 

"It is certainly something that is not a great thing for civil aviation however each company has to manage its own issues. As far as the ministry is concerned, we are quite steadfast in our resolve in terms of helping airlines in whatever fundamental issues there are..but as I said it is something that each individual company has to manage its own issues," Scindia said. 

The insolvency filing by Go First has also triggered a moratorium on its aircraft, irking the lessors which had initiated the process to de-register the aircraft as soon as the airline suspended flight operations. However, the moratorium has frozen the aircraft and the lessors have approached the National Company Appellate Law Tribunal against the NCLT order admitting the plea by Go First.

Industry experts are seeing the solution in Capetown convention bill, a treaty which is designed to protect the repossession rights of aircraft. 

"Capetown convention is in the works. When it will be ready, it will be presented first before the cabinet," Scindia said. 

Meanwhile, the ministry has been working on bridge the gap between the demand for air travel and supply of capacity after the suspension of Go First which used to carry around 30,000 daily passengers with a market share of nearly 7%. 

"Gap between supply of planes and flying them can be looked at by many airlines through a wet lease programme. Thre are 1-2 airlines that have actually gone forward with that and are now flying planes on a wet lease basis as well," Scindia said. 

"We have tried to be very faciliatory to increase capacity in whatever manner we can to make sure," he added. 

While the government has asked airlines to fill the gap that Go First has left, leading to shortage of capacity on several routes and sky-rocketing air fares, the issue is that other airlines also have access to limited capacity owing to global supply chain issues impacting the aviation industry. 

"We are asking airlines....that gap is limited not necessarily by an airline's desire to serve customers but by the capacity of their fleet," he added.

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Published: 18 May 2023, 10:49 PM IST
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