Go-First resolution professional challenges before HC permission to lessors to maintain aircrafts

The interim resolution professional (IRP) of crisis-hit Go First airline on Monday challenged before the Delhi High Court the permission given to the lessors to inspect their aircraft and carry out maintenance.

In appeals before a division bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, the senior lawyers for the resolution professional, appointed under the insolvency law to manage the airline, argued that the order of the single judge granting interim relief to the lessors on their petition seeking deregistration of their planes was contrary to the law.

The bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Narula, listed the appeals for further hearing on July 11 and orally asked the parties to not “do anything” in pursuance of the single judge’s order in the meantime.

“List tomorrow. Don’t do anything,” the court said.

In a judgment passed on July 5, the single judge had allowed the lessors to inspect their aircraft at least twice a month and carry out maintenance work.

It had also restrained the resolution professional and other parties from removing, replacing or taking out any part or components or records of the 30 aircraft in question except with the prior written approval of the lessor of the particular aircraft.

Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing the appellant, said if the control of the fleet of aircraft is taken away, it would be difficult to keep the airline alive for its revival.

He assured the court that efforts were underway to keep the airline as a going concern and re-start its operations soon.

Senior advocate Ramji Srinivasan also appeared for the appellant and said even in the petitions before the single judge, the prayer of the lessors was to direct the resolution professional to maintain the aircraft.

DGCA counsel Anjana Gosain submitted that under the applicable framework, only Go First was authorised to oversee the day-to-day maintenance of the aircraft and lessors would need approvals for the same.

Several aircraft lessors of Go First had earlier approached the single judge seeking deregistration of their planes by aviation regulator DGCA so they could take them back from the airline.

While granting interim relief, the single judge had asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to permit the lessors, their employees and agents to access the airport, where their aircraft are currently parked, and to inspect.

Earlier, the NCLT-appointed resolution professional, tasked with managing Go First, had told the high court that returning aircraft to the lessors will render the airline, which has 7,000 employees to look after, “dead”.

On May 10, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had admitted the airline’s voluntary insolvency resolution petition and appointed Abhilash Lal as the interim resolution professional to manage the carrier.

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With a moratorium in force on financial obligations and transfer of assets of Go First in the wake of the insolvency resolution proceedings, the lessors are unable to deregister and take back the aircraft leased to the carrier.

The lessors had earlier told the single judge that denial of deregistration by the DGCA was “illegitimate”.

The lawyers for the lessors had said they had approached the civil aviation regulator for deregistration of their aircraft but it rejected their pleas.

The lessors who have approached the high court are: Accipiter Investments Aircraft 2 Limited, EOS Aviation 12 (Ireland) Limited, Pembroke Aircraft Leasing 11 Limited, SMBC Aviation Capital Limited, SFV Aircraft Holdings IRE 9 DAC Ltd, ACG Aircraft Leasing Ireland Ltd and DAE SY 22 13 Ireland Designated Activity Company.

Go First stopped flying from May 3.

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