Go First, which is facing multiple headwinds, has received an additional Rs 400 crore under a government scheme and expects to operate more planes once it gets 16 new P&W engines in the coming weeks, according to officials. The no-frills carrier has at least 25 planes on the ground, mainly due to the non-availability of Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines that power its A320 fleet.
With many aircraft remaining non-operational, the airline is also grappling with flight delays and rescheduling of departure timings. Further, its On-Time Performance (OTP) has taken a beating. A government official said the airline availed an additional Rs 400 crore under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) this month. Go First, which can take up to Rs 1,500 crore under the scheme, has so far availed at least a total of Rs 800 crore.
A Go First spokesperson said that 25-26 planes are on the ground and currently, 32 aircraft are operational. The airline is in active discussions with P&W and expects to get 16 engines in the coming weeks. This will help in operating more aircraft, the spokesperson said. Currently, the carrier’s fleet has A320 Neos and Ceos. It has taken delivery of one A320 neo each in September and October. One more such plane would be coming this month and another one in December.
The airline has placed orders for 144 planes with Airbus. Regarding flight delays, the spokesperson said maximum efforts are being made to minimise cancellations while there are delays. Many passengers have taken to social media to express their grievances over flight delays and cancellations by the airline.
A senior official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said it has regulations in place to deal with delays and cancellations, and that will be strictly enforced. “In case, an airline is not honouring the regulations, we will step in and shall ensure redressal,” the official said.
In October, the carrier’s market share declined to 7 per cent while the OTP was 60.7 per cent. Last month, it carried 8.02 lakh passengers, as per official data. It had a market share of 7.9 per cent in September. An airline official said the OTP has witnessed an improvement in the last one week and with the fresh ECLGS funds, the issue of delay in the payment of salaries is also likely to be addressed soon. OTP of scheduled domestic airlines is computed for four metro airports — Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
The government official quoted earlier said the ECLGS has helped Go First and SpiceJet in addressing their financial problems.In October, the government modified the ECLGS by raising the limit of loans that can be availed by an entity to Rs 1,500 crore from Rs 400 crore earlier.
On November 3, sources at the airline said that promoters have infused around Rs 2,800 crore in the last 15 months, which has helped the carrier tackle multiple headwinds, including the pandemic, travel curbs and higher fuel costs. In its Mid-Year Outlook for this fiscal, aviation consultancy CAPA India in its report released on November 1 said it estimates that around 75 aircraft, equivalent to about 10-12 per cent of the Indian fleet, are currently grounded due to maintenance or engine-related issues.
“Supply chain issues are likely to continue in FY24 — which will impact future deliveries… delays to future deliveries could also reflect in liquidity issues for some carriers, as the income from sale-and-leaseback financing may be less than planned,” it had said in the report. On November 7, the country’s largest airline IndiGo said that around 30 aircraft are grounded due to “supply chain disruptions”.