MUMBAI- A resolution professional overseeing the insolvency process for Go First (G8) has initiated the next phase by inviting an Expression of Interest (EOI) for the sale of the carrier, as reported in an advertisement in ET on Monday.
The deadline for submitting interest in the airline has been set for August 9.
Go First on Sale
Go First filed for bankruptcy protection in May, attributing the grounding of nearly half of its 54 Airbus A320neo planes to “faulty” Pratt & Whitney engines. In response, the engine company refuted the airline’s claims.
According to Indian law, the EoI process marks the formal commencement of seeking potential buyers or investors for the airline.
The publication of Form G, which relates to the invitation for EoI, is an important step towards concluding the insolvency process, stated Abhirup Dasgupta, a partner at HSA Advocates, as reported by Reuters.
Concerns have arisen among lenders due to a Delhi High Court order prohibiting the airline from removing any parts from the aircraft it intends to fly.
The lessors, who own the aircraft, are now facing a ban imposed by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on recovering the aircraft during the ongoing Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) process.
Restart Funds Approved
The committee of creditors had previously approved funding of Rs 425 crore. But they are apprehensive that this requirement may hinder the business. In response, resolution professional Shailendra Ajmera has filed an appeal challenging the court order.
With debts amounting to over Rs 6,500 crore, Go First owes creditors, led by the Central Bank of India, a substantial sum. The Central Bank alone has outstanding loans of Rs 1,987 crore, including about Rs 650 crore of post-Covid emergency lines.
The airline’s survival hinges on an upcoming order from the Singapore arbitration court, which is expected later this month.
Should the court not grant relief and compel Pratt & Whitney to replace faulty engines, Go First may be unable to resume operations, potentially jeopardizing the entire recovery process, according to individuals familiar with the matter.
Although the Singapore International Arbitration had directed Pratt & Whitney to provide around 20 engines by December 2023. Subsequently, the engine manufacturer challenged the order. Further citing payment failure by the airline and the ongoing global supply chain shortage.
In its petition reviewed by ET, Pratt & Whitney claims that the airline owes them over $100 million.
Based on current trends, insiders familiar with Go First’s business plan have indicated that a minimum of six engines could fail by November 2023.
Go First to Revival Plan
The proposal submitted by Go First outlines the airline’s plan to restart operations by utilizing a fleet of 26 aircraft. Further, including four additional planes on standby, as reported by CNBC-TV18.
The airline aims to operate from 22 airports, serving 78 routes with an estimated 160 daily flights.
As of April 28, 2023, Go First Airlines’ outstanding debt to various lenders, including Bank of Baroda, Central Bank of India, IDBI Bank, and Deutsche Bank, amounted to Rs 6,521 crore.
Banks have faced significant losses in the past due to the collapse of Kingfisher Air and Jet Airways. Both are burdened with substantial debt.
A source stated, “Now that the resolution professional has been appointed, he will conduct a transaction audit. Once the transaction audit is completed, lenders could conduct a forensic audit of the airline’s book. Further Lenders are likely to take a call on this in a week’s time.”
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