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Go First lessors move Delhi HC, want their leased aircraft back

After failing to get any relief from the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), several aircraft lessors of Go First have moved the Delhi High Court, seeking deregistration of their planes by the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA).

Their contention is that NCLAT is not empowered to deal with the issue of deregistration as the aircraft are not the property of Go First but have been leased to it. As such, the interim resolution professional also does not have powers to take over the assets of a third party.

Meanwhile, Go First airline on Friday extended the suspension of flight operations to May 28 and expressed hope that it would soon be able to resume bookings. The airline, which is facing insolvency, had earlier suspended operations until May 26.

On Friday, the lessors submitted before the high court that denial of deregistration by DGCA is illegitimate. The court will further hear the matter on May 30 and has directed all the parties to file written submissions.

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

Since the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on May 10 admitted the voluntary insolvency plea of Go First, there’s moratorium on its financial obligations as well as transfer of assets.

Several lessors had subsequently moved the NCLAT against the tribunal’s order, but on May 22, the appellate tribunal rejected their plea and directed them to file their appeals before the NCLT.

Go First has committed a default of Rs 2,660 crore toward aircraft lessors and Rs 1,202 crore towards its vendors. The total liablities of Go First is Rs 11,463 crore, of which bank dues are worth Rs 6,521 crore.

Of this, Rs 1,300 has been drawn under the government’s emergency credit line guarantee scheme (ECLGS).

The airline has a total fleet strength of 54. Of this, 28 aircraft are grounded due to engine issues with Pratt & Whitney, and 26 are operational. Lessors had moved DGCA demanding deregistration of 45 planes.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the lessors on Friday, said the aircraft was its property and an interim resolution professional (IRP) has no power to take over assets of a third party.

Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, representing EOS Aviation 12 (Ireland), said NCLAT cannot deal with the issue of deregistration of aircraft and the remedy lies under Article 226 of the Constitution as the issue is between the lessor and the DGCA.

Another lawyer contended that under Irrevocable De-registration and Export Request Authorisations (IDERA), it was mandatory for the DGCA to deregister the aircraft at their request.

(With PTI inputs)

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