Go First’s CEO, Kaushik Khona, has assured employees that the company will pay salaries for April and beyond without any cuts though he didn’t give a timeline.
The airline is seeking “interim funds” and has received investment interest from Middle-Eastern carriers, subject to approval from the Committee of Creditors and in compliance with IBC norms, he said while addressing the pilots. The CoC is set to be formed on Tuesday, and the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) will present a business plan to them.
On Saturday, Khona addressed the company’s pilots. Over the two-hour-long meeting, Khona addressed multiple questions posted to him by the pilots. Khona told the pilots he wanted to address three things — salaires, operations, and capital situation.
Apologising to his employees, Khona said that since the beginning of Covid, the airline has delayed salaries every month, and has been unable to regulate them. “Especially over the past few months, the situation has worsened. But let me assure you that we will pay salaries for April. In future also, there will be no pay cut. All employees will be paid in full.”
The airline has 7,000 employees on its payroll, and it indirectly employs over 10,000 people.
He requested the pilots to be “patient for a while”. He said the competition airlines were being “opportunistic.” He asked his employees to not fall for it. Khona said that the NCLT had directed the company to not let go of employees.
When asked if the airline had enough working capital to pay the employees, he said that in April, the Wadias had pumped in ₹280 crore. Along with this, the company had the Emergency Credit Line loan facility of ₹280 crore.
Khona claimed that the airline was in the midst of getting “interim funding, refunds from some places, amount receivables, but this is subject to approval from the CoC. Along with this, we also have interests from investors from the Middle East and a Middle Eastern carrier but this too is subject to approval under the IBC norms.”
Multiple messages, emails and calls sent to the company and its CEO remained unanswered till the time of press. “There have been speculations about the airline’s operations being restored on May 24. The company has not communicated that. It is not possible for us to restart on May 24 as the Committee of Creditors hasn’t been formed yet. Only after the CoC approves the business plan we can go ahead with it. But, let me assure you that we are working on it at the earliest. It could even mean we restart as early as within the next two weeks.”
However, the airline has to brace for multi-judicial litigations as lessors and other vendors have their grievances, he explained. He said that the airline plans to restart the operations with 26 aircraft. An employee asked since the company had pilots and crew for 54 aircraft, what happens to the rest of the employees to which Khona said the airline will continue to amp up its operations back to its peak.
He further said that the CoC will be formed in the coming week, and IRP will start tabulating claims from operational and financial creditors.