SpiceJet’s Singh bids for GoFirst with partner – Times of India

NEW DELHI: EaseMyTrip founder Nishant Pitti and SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh have submitted a joint bid to revive GoFirst, giving the budget carrier, grounded since last May, another chance of a restart. While Pitti, who has bid through his company Busy Bee Airways, will bring in about Rs 500 crore for the revival process, Singh, who has bid in his personal capacity, brings experience of running an airline to the table.
Another bid for GoFirst has come from Sharjah-based Sky One. A third company, Safrik Investments, has also shown interest in the airline. Thanks to these three entities, National Company Law Tribunal had on Feb 13 extended the deadline by another 60 days to complete GoFirst’s resolution process. The first attempt did not see Go getting any bids. Safrik Investments has presence in New York, Abidjan and Dubai. It contributes to development of the African continent through strategic investments.

The Pitti-Singh joint bid could, however, make GoFirst the first airline to revive under India’s bankruptcy law as revival of Jet Airways is all but stalled. “This combination has both funds (from Pitti) and airline experience (Singh). EaseMyTrip, like all travel agencies, has significant amount stuck as un-refunded GoFirst tickets sold. The arbitration case between Go and Pratt & Whitney (PW) is on in Singapore. Go is likely to get a significant amount from there as its collapse happened primarily due to almost half the aircraft being grounded for months as a result of PW’s snag-ridden engines for Airbus A320 family of planes and its inability to even give replacement engines,” said people in the know. Whoever bags the airline will get the arbitration proceeds.
“Go First has been an integral part of Indian aviation ecosystem for past one-and-a-half decades. It is noteworthy, holding the majority shares of Busy Bee Airways, I have, under my personal capacity, supported a joint bid to resurrect the airline in the interest of employees and all stakeholders,” says Pitti
Singh needs funds to keep SpiceJet afloat and could get a lifeline by being the operational arm of a revived GoAir. SpiceJet has around 9,000 employees and plans to downsize by laying off over 1,000 people. GoFirst’s bankruptcy filing shows the erstwhile Wadia Group airline owes creditors, including banks, Rs 6,521 crore. A revival means they also get something and it is not a 100% write-off.
SpiceJet says it is currently in the midst of a revival plan and has completed the first tranche of Rs 744 crore as capital infusion. Singh said: “GoFirst holds immense potential and can be revitalised to work in close synergy with SpiceJet, benefiting both carriers. Apart from coveted slots, international traffic rights, and an order for over 100 Airbus Neo planes, GoFirst is a trusted brand among flyers. I am happy to contribute to the efforts aimed at reviving this airline and leveraging its strengths for mutual growth and success.”
The other bidder, Sky One chairman Jaideep Mirchandani, said: “We had sent an expression of interest. Have now submitted the bid for GoFirst and look forward to the next stage. Given our vast aviation experience across the globe, we are confident about the acquisition.”

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