Go First Insolvency: Lessors Cannot Take Possession of Aircraft, NCLAT Upholds NCLT’s Orders | Aviation News

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Monday upheld an NCLT order allowing crisis-hit Go First’s voluntary insolvency resolution proceedings. A two-member NCLAT bench asked several aircraft lessors of Go First opposing insolvency to approach the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for any remedy.

“The order dated May 10, 2023, allowing insolvency is upheld,” said the NCLAT bench headed by Chairperson Justice Ashok Bhushan. The direction came on a batch of four petitions filed by aircraft lessors opposing Go First’s insolvency proceedings. The lessors are SMBC Aviation Capital Ltd, GY Aviation, SFV Aircraft Holdings, and Engine Leasing Finance BV (ELFC).

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These four lessors own around 22 aircraft operated by the Wadia Group firm, which is presently going through Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP). The lessors had opposed the decision of the Delhi-based principal bench of NCLT, which had earlier this month allowed a voluntary insolvency plea by Go First.

NCLT had appointed an interim resolution professional (IRP) to look after Go First’s affairs and suspended its board as part of the insolvency resolution process. As per the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code provisions, NCLT had put Go First under moratorium, which means that lessors are barred from taking back aircraft, and creditors are restrained from taking coercive action.

NCLT, in the order, passed on May 10, 2023, had also directed the IRP to keep the airline as a going concern and not to retrench its employees. The crisis-hit carrier has more than 7,000 employees on its roll.

This was immediately challenged by SMBC Aviation Capital before NCLAT within hours of the NCLT order. Later, other lessors also moved NCLT, and the appellate tribunal, on May 15, reserved its order. So far this month, several lessors have approached aviation regulator DGCA for deregistration and repossession of Go First’s 45 planes.

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