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India's Go Airlines seeks urgent bankruptcy order, told to stop issuing tickets

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NEW DELHI: Go Airlines on Monday called on India's company law tribunal to urgently grant its request for bankruptcy protection, as the aviation regulator stepped up pressure on the carrier to stop issuing new tickets and lessors sought to repossess planes.

The airline, widely known as Go First, filed for bankruptcy protection last week, blaming "faulty" Pratt & Whitney engines for the grounding of about half its 54 Airbus A320neo. In all, it has 57 planes. While the National Company Law Tribunal heard Go First's bankruptcy plea last week, it has yet to pass an order.

This has given lessors a window to secure their assets. Leasing companies including GY Aviation Lease, SMBC Aviation Capital and Pembroke Aircraft Leasing, submitted requests to India's aviation regulator to take back at least 20 planes. Lawyers representing cash-strapped Go Airlines said at Monday's court hearing that the lessors' actions could further impair its operations. Separately, India's aviation regulator ordered Go First to stop issuing new tickets, a government source with direct knowledge of the matter said. Go Airlines did not respond to a request for comment on the directive. Pratt & Whitney, part of Raytheon Technologies and the exclusive supplier of engines to Go First, has previously told an arbitrator that the airline's claim of defective engines causing its demise was "astounding" and without evidence.

Go First failed because of "its own poor management and events like Covid", Pratt said, according to legal documents. The fall of Go First marks the first major airline collapse in India since Jet Airways filed for bankruptcy in 2019. Go First's total debt to financial creditors was 65.21 billion rupees ($798 million) as of April 28, it had earlier said in a bankruptcy filing with the tribunal.

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