Go First: Pratt & Whitney engine lost us nearly five decades of flying time

Filing for insolvency protection, Go First told a Delaware, US court on Tuesday that its Airbus SE jets were grounded for 17,244 days over three years due to faulty engines

Go First has also grounded 28 of its Airbus A320neo aircraft, over half its fleet in India, over similar engine issues (photo courtesy Go First)
Go First has also grounded 28 of its Airbus A320neo aircraft, over half its fleet in India, over similar engine issues (photo courtesy Go First)

Aditya Anand

Due to engine faults, Go Airlines India Ltd. has been forced to ground its Airbus SE jets for 17,244 days over the past three years, it said in a legal filing in a Delaware court. The carrier, seeking insolvency protection, blamed the issues on Pratt & Whitney, stating that there have been "numerous, persistent, and continuing technical issues with the defective GTF [geared turbofan] engines supplied by Pratt".

According to the filing, Pratt & Whitney still needs to comply with an arbitration order in Singapore, which mandated it to supply spare engines and parts to Go Airlines. Its failure to comply has led to "a significant risk that Go First will go out of business and be forced to declare bankruptcy", the airline argued.

The carrier was rebranded as Go First ahead of a planned $440 million initial share sale last year, which did not materialise. A local bankruptcy court heard the carrier's insolvency petition on Thursday morning in Delhi, but refused to grant any interim moratorium saying that such a provision did not exist.

Pratt & Whitney, which spent $10 billion to develop a new engine, has disputed the claims. The unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp. said the Go Airlines matter is sub judice and continues to prioritise delivery schedules for all customers. In an April 3 communication, the engine maker acknowledged that it is bound to honour the arbitration award, but had informed Go Airlines that no spare leased engines are available. The engines due to be released from repair shops were committed to other customers before the arbitration award was announced, Pratt told Go Airlines, according to the court filing.

On Thursday, the principal bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) reserved its order on a plea by Go First seeking an interim moratorium to prevent the seizure of its 26 aircraft. Go First filed an application with the NCLT seeking a declaration of bankruptcy under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and to initiate corporate insolvency resolution proceedings against itself.

At the hearing, senior advocate P. Nagesh, who represented the airline, argued that if the airline were to lose its aircraft, it would bring its business to a standstill. Representatives of 26 aircraft lessors have contested the proceedings, claiming that it would endanger their contractual rights and stating that they seek the return of their aircraft.

Nagesh also submitted that confiscating the aircraft would harm approximately 7,000 employees of the company, as well as approximately 10,000 indirect employees.

However, the Tribunal noted that there were no provisions in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) for an interim moratorium during the hearing. Following the arguments, the court reserved its order.

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