BY VENKATACHARI JAGANNATHAN
Chennai– Getting bankruptcy protection, can the Wadia group’s low cost carrier Go Airlines (India) Ltd send its fleet back into the air in two weeks — as it said earlier — is the question that needs to be answered.
On Wednesday, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admitted the voluntary insolvency petition filed by Go Airlines and appointed Abhilash Lal as the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP).
The airline had suggested Lal’s name in its insolvency petition.
The Principal Bench of NCLT, New Delhi also declared a moratorium for the company and directed the suspended Board of Directors to cooperate with the IRP.
The NCLT has also ordered the suspended management to deposit Rs 5 crore for the IRP to meet the immediate expenses to be adjusted by the Committee of Creditors (COC) to be formed soon.
It had also ordered the company from retrenching any of its employees.
Blaming global aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney of not providing spare engines for defective ones resulting in the grounding of nearly half of its fleet, Go Airlines had approached the NCLT with a petition for resolution on May 2.
Reacting to that charge, Pratt & Whitney’s spokesperson in a statement said: “Go First’s (Go Airlines brand) allegations that Pratt & Whitney is responsible for its financial condition are without merit. Pratt & Whitney will vigorously defend itself against Go’s claims, and is pursuing its own legal recourse.”
The airline had approached the NCLT to retain its aircraft from being repossessed by the lessors. With the bankruptcy cover, the lessors have to petition the NCLT.
It was also reported rival airlines have started talking with the airport authorities to take over the slots occupied by Go Airlines.
As for funds to restart operations, Go Airlines CEO Kaushik Khona had earlier told IANS that the company is yet to draw the balance of Rs 208 crore of the Rs 1,500 crore sanctioned under the Emergency Line Credit Guarantee Scheme (ELCGS).
According to him, the airline needs about Rs 17-18 crore per day for its operations as the trade partners may provide the needed items — fuel and others — on cash and carry basis.
Khona had also said that the airline will be able to fly again soon with its planes to be up in the air in 7/8 days once the petition is admitted.
On Wednesday, the airline had announced an extension of flight cancellations till May 19.
As to the availability of pilots to fly the aircraft as many have started attending interviews held by rivals, Khona had said: “I have the pilots to fly all the 54 aircraft. We have a huge fleet of pilots.”
Khona said the majority of the pilots have not left the company even during the Covid-19 period and added that it takes about six months for a pilot to fly an aircraft after joining a rival.
He did agree that the salaries for the ground staff have been paid while the April salary for the professional and others is pending. (IANS)