HC permits Go First lessors to engage security personnel to protect aircraft engines, parts

 The Delhi High Court Thursday permitted crisis-hit Go First’s lessors to engage security personnel round-the-clock for protecting their aircraft lying idle for several months.

Justice Tara Vitasta Ganju also asked the Resolution Professional (RP) of Go First to share documents related to the maintenance of aircraft, engines and airframes with its lessors.

The high court passed an interim order on multiple applications by several lessors seeking maintenance of their aircraft.

The interim applications were filed by the lessors in the main petitions seeking deregistration of their planes by aviation regulator DGCA so they could take them back from the airline.

The high court ordered that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), through the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, shall permit duly verified security personnel to monitor the aircraft.

The main matter is listed for further hearing on October 19.

In an earlier interim order passed on July 5, the high court had allowed the lessors to inspect their aircraft at least twice a month and carry out maintenance.

It had said there can be no denial of the fact that the aircraft of the petitioner lessors are highly valuable and sophisticated equipment and require maintenance for their preservation.

It had also restrained Go First and its representatives, and the RP appointed by the NCLT, from removing, replacing or taking out any part or components, or records of the 30 aircraft except with the prior written approval of the lessor of the particular airplane.

The high court had asked DGCA to permit the lessors, their employees and agents to access the airport, where their aircraft are currently parked, and to inspect them within three days.

Earlier, The NCLT-appointed RP, 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 RP to manage the carrier.

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 high court 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.

They said they have not received any communication from the DGCA, but having checked the status of their applications on the aviation regulator’s website, they found their requests have been rejected.

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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, DAE SY 22 13 Ireland Designated Activity Company and BOC Aviation (Ireland) Ltd.

Besides, GY Aviation Lease 1722 Co Ltd, Jackson Square Aviation Ireland Ltd, Sky High XCV Leasing Company Ltd, Star Rising Aviation 13 Ltd, Bluesky 31 Leasing Company Ltd and Bluesky 19 Leasing Company Ltd have also approached the high court.

The NCLT had on May 10 allowed the voluntary insolvency resolution plea of Go First.

On May 22, the NCLAT upheld the order of the Delhi-based principal bench of NCLT, which had admitted the plea of Go First to initiate voluntary insolvency resolution proceedings, and appointed the IRP to suspend the company’s board.

Several lessors approached the aviation regulator for deregistration and repossession of 45 planes they had leased to the carrier.

Go First has stopped flying since May 3.

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