Undergoing insolvency, the airline has replied to the showcause notice issued by the regulator based on which a call is to be taken on its licence.
“After having got reprieve from lessors re-possessing aircraft on Monday (referring to NCLAT upholding NCLT admitting Go First’s insolvency plea), the reply is basically a statement of intent. That the airline wishes to resume operations. But this reply does not have details like funding; with how many planes and how many routes they plan to resume operations on. We expect another communication when the IRP (insolvency resolution professional) has something concrete to share,” said people in the know.
The regulator had earlier indefinitely barred Go First from selling tickets without its approval.
Go First has cancelled all flights since May 3, a day after filing for insolvency.
Lessors approached DGCA under Cape Town Convention to repossess 45 of the airline’s 54 planes.
But after its IBC plea was admitted, the airline has got protection from assets in its possession like airport slots and aircraft being taken away from it.
The DGCA will do due diligence on terms of seeing whether Go First has the requisite financial and human resource strength to mount operations safely.
“The NCLT verdict gives protection to Go First in terms of its assets. But it is not a direction to DGCA for the airline to fly again. They have to see all aspects before giving the go ahead,” said people in the know.
The road ahead for Go First — that tries to rebuild itself amid the ruins of Jet Airways’ so-far-unsuccessful NCLT-route revival plan — will not be easy.
The interim resolution professional (IRP)-led new management will have to convince aviation authorities that Go First can fly safely and that it can actually operate the flights whose tickets it sells after being allowed to do so. The operational (not financial) SOP adopted in the last few months that Jet Airways flew for before shutting down in April 2019 could be the handbook for Go as and when it applies to fly again.
“Go management will be quizzed on how many pilots, engineers, post holders and other essential staff the airline is left with,” said a senior official.
To protect consumer interest, the aviation ministry used to ask Jet to submit its fleet availability two days in advance and then a short-term domestic flight schedule would be approved for selling tickets.
“We wanted to minimise chances of people buying tickets of flights that eventually get cancelled. Whatever fleet size Jet would project, we would deduct two planes from that and allow a schedule accordingly. Despite this, scores of people were left with dud tickets,” said another official.
The difference between Go First and scores of airlines that have shut down like Kingfisher and Jet is that the Wadia Group carrier went into voluntary insolvency which allows it temporary protection from lessors repossessing their planes and from airports taking away its slots.