Go First Crisis: EaseMyTrip Founder Pulls Out Bid Following Aircraft De-Registration

Go First Crisis: EaseMyTrip Founder Withdraws Bid Following Aircraft De-Registration

Go First, which filed for bankruptcy in May last year, faced another major setback after EaseMyTrip founder and CEO Nishant Pitti announced the withdrawal of his bid for the defunct airline. The airline, once the fifth largest in India based on scheduled departures, has had its entire fleet of 54 aircraft grounded since May 3 last year. Earlier this month, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) de-registered all of Go First’s aircraft, further complicating its revival prospects.

As part of its bankruptcy process, Go First received two financial bids. One bid was submitted by a consortium led by SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh, along with Busy Bee Aviation Pvt. Ltd, in which EaseMyTrip holds a 51% stake. The other bid came from Sharjah-based Sky One Aviation. However, on Saturday, Pitti announced that EaseMyTrip would be withdrawing from the bid, citing a need to focus on other strategic priorities.

“After careful consideration, I have decided to withdraw from the GoAir bid in my personal capacity. This decision allows me to better focus on other strategic priorities and initiatives that align with our long-term vision and growth objectives. Our commitment to delivering exceptional value and service remains unwavering as we continue to navigate new opportunities and challenges,” Pitti stated.

Go First, formerly owned by the Wadia Group, ceased operations during the peak summer travel season last year, causing significant disruption to Indian passengers. The airline is now expected to lose all its slots, as it has not been able to utilize them for over a year.

Mark D Martin of Martin Consultancy commented on the situation, stating, “Sadly, it’s curtains for Go First. Though if lessors reached a settlement with the airline on switching from Pratt and Whitney (whom Go First said was the cause of their grounding) to CFM leap engines, GoFirst could have been saved.”

Go First’s fleet predominantly used Pratt & Whitney (PW) engines, which the airline claims have been problematic since their first deliveries in 2017. The airline cited these engine failures as a major factor leading to severe cash flow issues, eventually resulting in their bankruptcy filing. Go First is currently in a legal battle with PW at the Singapore Court of Arbitration, seeking approximately Rs.8,000 crore in compensation.

The grounding of Go First’s aircraft due to non-availability of spare parts and delayed supply of retrofitted engines from PW led to major flight cancellations post-pandemic. This situation was exacerbated by the supply chain issues stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Brajesh Singh, President of Arthur D. Little India Pvt. Ltd., emphasized the broader implications of Go First’s collapse, saying, “The death of an airline in a developing country is not seen as a good indicator for the aviation sector. Despite constant economic growth, infrastructural upgrading, and increasing passenger footfall, if there is an event of an airline going out of runway, it raises questions on the overall ecosystem, governance, and solidity of the sector.”

Singh further added, “Go First’s going out of business has impacted the Indian aviation sector’s image and also whether the market is conducive to foreign/homegrown airlines. It is high time to relook, review, and come up with more industry-conducive frameworks.”

Sources By Agencies

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