Crisis airline Go First has extended its suspension of flight operations until May 26 for operational reasons. The low-cost carrier, which initially suspended flights on May 3, may resume operations from May 27.
There have been indications of pilot calls from Go First’s assignment asking for availability on May 27. However, the airline’s business plan has yet to be filed by the IRP. The schedule and departure of several pilots made it uncertain whether operations could resume on 27 May.
Sources say GoFirst pilots based in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi have received calls from their assignments asking if they are “ready” to operate on May 27. Businessline spoke to at least three such pilots.
The company did not respond to this article’s questions. A company source said the IRP has yet to submit a business plan. They also say that since many pilots decided to jump ship, the airline is also taking inventory of the pilots. Since then, business could not confirm whether the airline could resume operations as of May 27.
Meanwhile, an internal email was reviewed by business with the theme ‘Online refresher drills towards mining again’.
The email to the pilots read: “Please be informed – Operations are likely to begin May 27, 2023. Since there has been a gap in flight operations – it has been decided to proceed. On-the-ground online refresher training. The topics that will be covered are Critical aspects of performance, engineering operations and adverse weather. The pilots were supposed to have a training session with the Chief Ground Instructor.
In an update on its website, the Wadia-owned airline said that for operational reasons, “flights until May 26, 2023 are all cancelled.” “A full refund will be issued to the original payment method soon… as you know, the company has filed a request for an immediate settlement and resumption of operations. We will soon be able to resume bookings,” it added.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has directed Go First to stop booking tickets until further notice. On May 10, the National Company Law Court (NCLT) accepted the airline’s voluntary bankruptcy petition and appointed an Interim Settlement Specialist (IRP) to oversee the airline’s affairs. .
Go First’s application to the NCLT reveals the cancellation of 4,118 flights in the past 30 days, affecting 77,500 passengers. The DGCA issued a clear notice of the airline’s failure to operate the services safely and efficiently. Go First’s response will determine the fate of the Air Operator Certificate (AOC). As a result, the DGCA directed Go First to stop booking and selling tickets immediately. The airline owes its creditors about ₹11,463 crore.
Earlier reports had suggested the possibility of a resumption of operations on May 24, but BusinessLine reported that it was unable to restart at that time. The airline currently faces the possibility of numerous legal battles, including lawsuits from lessors and suppliers, limited cash resources and frozen corporate accounts. Go First stated that the flight cancellation until May 23 was for operational reasons and expressed regret for the inconvenience caused.
While efforts are underway to restart operations as soon as possible, the airline is demanding sustainable operations and addressing lessor issues explicitly. The IRP has been tasked with running the company as a going concern. Go First’s lessor, SMBC, filed an appeal with NCLAT claiming that the airline owes ₹700-800 crore. The bench did not provide temporary relief and scheduled a hearing for May 15.
Of Go First’s 54 aircraft, 27 were grounded due to engine problems. SMBC, GY Aviation and SFV Aviation, which jointly own 21 aircraft, appealed to the NCLT. The DGCA received de-registration requests for 45 aircraft, but the ban imposed by the NCLT prevented their de-registration. Additional lessors are expected to file an appeal, with some considering written requests. The matter is likely to escalate to the Supreme Court.
In summary, Go First has extended the suspension of flight operations until May 26 for operational reasons. The airline, which is dealing with insolvency, faces legal battles, grounded planes and financial challenges. The DGCA has directed Go First to halt bookings while the NCLT proceedings continue. The fate of the airline’s AOC and its ability to continue operating remains uncertain.