Go First scales down revival plan after DGCA’s audit

By India Today Business Desk: Cash-strapped airline Go First has scaled down its proposed revival operations after an audit by the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Go First, grounded since the beginning of May, is scaling down operations by almost 30 per cent after DGCA shared 13 observations on its plan to resume operations.

The aviation regulator noted that the airline does not have adequate pilots and technical staff for the scale of operations it had proposed initially. The DGCA found that the airline does not have the required number of specially trained pilots for high-altitude airfields such as Leh.

DGCA also raised other issues, including ongoing court cases, funding, refunds, and spares.

Also Read | Go First creditors approve Rs 425 crore interim fund, revival plan on track

Go First’s resolution professional (RP) Shailendra Ajmera has acknowledged DGCA’s pilot shortage observation and wrote to the regulator on July 15, stating that the airline plans to resume operations with 15 aircraft with 114 daily flights.

He added that the airline will continue to add flights as and when they are able to “stabilize operations” and “add pilots”.

Ajmera informed the regulator that the airline now plans to commence with five daily flights to Leh and three weekly to Thoise. The initial plan involved eight daily flights to Leh and three weekly defense charter flights to Thoise.

What was the initial plan?

Go First’s initial plan involved resuming operations on 22 airports and 78 routes with nearly 160 daily flights. It planned to do this with 26 aircraft, of which 22 were to be used, and four to be kept on standby.

On refunds, the resolution professional told the DGCA that the airline has to process refunds amounting to over Rs 500 crore for canceled flights until early July and that it has advance bookings of around Rs 110 crore.

The regulator has asked how the airline plans to refund this money, but there is no clarity yet.

Also Read | Go First bankruptcy | Crisis in the skies

The resolution professional further said that agents will be allowed to book tickets using their credits/money blocked with the airline, and passengers who booked directly will get refunds from fresh cash flow generated from fresh bookings.

The process, however, could take four to five months.

Go First filed for voluntary insolvency on May 2, blaming engine maker Pratt & Whitney’s faulty engines that led to the grounding of half its fleet of Airbus A320neos. The airline has stopped all flying operations since May 3.

Also Read | Go First crisis: Pratt & Whitney blames airline for ‘breaching contractual obligations’

Earlier this month, the DGCA began a special audit of the facilities of the airline to ensure that it meets the requirements to restart flight operations.

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