Despite promises, Go First has failed to pay salaries to its pilots as on June 1. The airline has defaulted salaries for two months now, and this comes in the backdrop where airlines are amid hiring pilots.
In a letter to its employees dated May 28, CEO Kaushik Khona, regarding the payment of retention allowances to pilots, the salaries remain unpaid. The airline, which temporarily suspended operations on May 2, is yet to disperse salaries for April and May, although it has managed to pay its cabin crew, engineers and ground staff.
In an attempt to retain pilots amid a backdrop of increasing demand for aviators, Go First has offered them the opportunity to revoke their resignations until June 15, with the added benefit of being eligible for the retention allowance. The airline is facing financial difficulties, with dues amounting to ₹11,000 crore, and it has requested the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) not to suspend or cancel its Air Operator’s Permit (AOP), as it could lead to the airline’s collapse. Go First has clarified that it filed for voluntary insolvency to address debt-related matters and that it has sufficient cash reserves to sustain its operations.
However, concerns persist regarding the airline’s ability to restart operations. Despite the temporary suspension being scheduled to end on June 4, sources suggest that further issues may prevent Go First from resuming flights after this date. The airline is currently awaiting judgment from the Delhi High Court on petitions filed by lessors seeking deregistration of their aircraft due to the airline’s financial troubles.
Meanwhile, in response to the lessors’ claims, the DGCA argued in court that they had not rejected any applications for repossession, citing a moratorium. The regulatory body clarified that the delay in processing the applications was due to public holidays, resulting in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admitting Go First to insolvency before repossession could be completed.
One lessor, Pembroke Aviation, explained that the leased aircraft were undergoing repairs for engine defects, making them unfit for operation. The company expressed concern that allowing the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) to operate these aircraft could jeopardize passenger safety. Pembroke’s lawyers emphasised the importance of upholding the contractual relationship between the lessor and the airline without modification or legal sanction, highlighting potential consequences for the Indian aviation sector.
As the situation unfolds, the fate of Go First remains uncertain. Pilots continue to wait for their overdue salaries, while the airline’s ability to restart operations and resolve its financial challenges hangs in the balance. Messages sent to the CEO and the e-mail sent to the airline seeking responses remained unanswered till the time of press.