Returning aircraft to lessors will render Go First “dead”: IRP tells Delhi HC

The NCLT-appointed Interim Resolution Professional (IRP), tasked with managing the 

crisis-hit Go First, told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday that returning aircraft to the lessors will render the airline, which has 7,000 employees to look after, “dead”.

The IRP was responding to pleas by several aircraft lessors of Go First seeking deregistration of their planes by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) so they could take them back from the airline.

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

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing the IRP, submitted before Justice Tara Vitasta Ganju that the return of aircraft to lessors will be the end of the airline.

“This will scuttle the entire process. Look at the consequences . If the aircraft are returned, that’s the end of this airline, it’s dead. Thousands of people who are employed, right from the person who cleans and scrubs the floor of the office spaces, pilots, large people who work at check-in counters….

“Airline is a very employment intensive industry. We have over 7,000 employees. My client has to take charge of all this, they will have priority. Ultimately it’s a question of money. These are all leased aircraft. Those issues have to be worked out,” he argued.

The senior counsel said it is not that the airline has grabbed somebody’s property illegally when somebody wants to walk out.

The high court has listed the matter for hearing arguments on behalf of the DGCA on May 1.

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

The lessors who have approached the high court are: Accipiter Investments Aircraft 2 Limited, EOS Aviation 12 (Ireland) Limited, Pembroke Aircraft Leasing 11 Limited and SMBC Aviation Capital Limited.

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On Tuesday, fresh petitions of SFV Aircraft Holdings IRE 9 DAC Ltd, ACG Aircraft Leasing Ireland Ltd and DAE SY 22 13 Ireland Designated Activity Company were also listed.

The court asked the parties to file their written submissions.

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

Go First stopped flying from May 3.

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