Is Go First Heading Towards Liquidation? Creditors Consider Final Moves

Abhishek Nayar

18 Jul 2024

Creditors of the debt-laden Go First airline are preparing to move towards the liquidation of the airline, citing the lack of substantial progress between banks and the two prospective bidders. Five months after receiving formal bids for the Wadia Group-owned carrier, the creditors are now finalizing a voting proposal to seek liquidation, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The Bidding Situation

Go First received two bids: one from a consortium led by EaseMyTrip CEO Nishant Pitti and SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh, and another from Sharjah-based Sky One Aviation. However, both bids fell short of the creditors' expectations.

"Some processes like the selection of the proposed liquidator, calculating the cost of liquidation, and funding of liquidation are being completed, after which the proposal will be put to vote this week," said an anonymous insider.

The Insolvency Process Deadline

The insolvency process timeframe ends on August 3, and creditors are likely to reach a decision before this date. "After negotiations with bidders, there was little scope for any increase. More importantly, both the bids were dependent on the ongoing arbitration claims in Singapore which lenders themselves are eyeing, so there is no point in dragging on this process now," another source mentioned.

The Arbitration Claims

Lenders are pinning their hopes on a better recovery from Go First's ongoing arbitration proceedings in Singapore against US-based engine maker Pratt & Whitney (P&W). They have sought over $1 billion from P&W, accusing it of supplying faulty engines that were not replaced on time, leading to the grounding of half the airline's fleet and its subsequent bankruptcy.

Details of the Bids

  • Sky One Aviation: Offered Rs 735 crore upfront in cash and up to 20% of future arbitration claims.
  • Ajay Singh: Proposed to pay Rs 650 crore over 12 months and 10% of future arbitration claims.

Despite the bids, creditors believe they can achieve a better recovery through the arbitration claims rather than selling the airline at a low price.

Land Parcel Auction

In addition to the arbitration claims, creditors expect to recover at least Rs 1,965 crore from the auction of a prime 94-acre land parcel in Thane near Mumbai, which is kept as collateral.

Creditors’ Claims

Go First owes around Rs 6,200 crore to its creditors. The secured creditors include:

  • Central Bank of India: Rs 1,934 crore
  • Bank of Baroda: Rs 1,744 crore
  • IDBI Bank: Rs 75 crore

Conclusion

The creditors are making a final call, betting on a more favorable outcome from the arbitration proceedings and the land auction rather than a low-priced sale of the airline. While there are risks involved with the arbitration, this "all or nothing" approach seems to be the chosen path as the deadline approaches.

With Inputs from Economic Times

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India Unifies Tax Rates on Aircraft Components

Abhishek Nayar

17 Jul 2024

In a strategic move aimed at simplifying taxation and fostering growth in the aviation industry, India has unified its tax rates on aircraft components and engine parts to a uniform 5%. This significant policy change, announced by Civil Aviation Minister Kinijrapu Rammohan Naidu on Monday, is expected to revolutionize the local maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) sector.

A Unified Tax Rate: Simplifying the Aviation Sector

Previously, the tax rates on aircraft components and engine parts in India varied between 5% and 28%, creating complexities and challenges for businesses operating in the aviation sector. The new uniform tax rate, effective immediately, addresses these challenges by simplifying the tax structure. This decision follows a recommendation by India's Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council in June, aiming to streamline the import process for "parts, components, testing equipment, tools, and tool-kits of aircraft."

Boosting Local MRO Businesses

Minister Naidu emphasized that the unified tax rate would provide a substantial boost to the local MRO sector, which is poised for significant growth given the burgeoning aviation market in India. "This new policy eliminates disparities, simplifies the tax structure, and fosters growth in the MRO sector," he stated. The move comes at a critical time when Indian airlines are expanding rapidly, with record orders for new jets.

Addressing Market Growth and Fleet Expansion

India is among the fastest-growing major aviation markets globally. The country's aircraft fleet, currently numbering around 700, is expected to more than double to over 1,500 by 2030. This rapid growth underscores the necessity of a robust local MRO industry to support the expanding fleet. The unified tax rate will make it easier and more cost-effective for airlines to maintain and repair their aircraft domestically, reducing reliance on foreign MRO services.

Industry Reactions and Future Implications

Industry experts and stakeholders have welcomed the government's decision, viewing it as a positive step towards enhancing the competitiveness of India's MRO sector. The simplified tax structure is expected to attract more investment and encourage the establishment of new MRO facilities within the country. This, in turn, will create jobs, foster technological advancements, and contribute to the overall growth of the aviation industry.

Conclusion: A Bright Future for India's Aviation Industry

The unification of tax rates on aircraft components and engine parts marks a pivotal moment for India's aviation sector. By addressing the challenges posed by varying tax rates and simplifying the tax structure, the government has laid the groundwork for a thriving local MRO industry. As the aviation market continues to grow, this policy change will play a crucial role in supporting the industry's expansion and ensuring that India remains a key player in the global aviation landscape.

With Inputs from Reuters

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Airbus Trims Freighter Demand Outlook

Abhishek Nayar

17 Jul 2024

In a strategic move reflecting shifting market dynamics, Airbus has revised its 20-year forecast for freighter demand, offering insights into the evolving landscape of global air cargo. The latest global market forecast predicts demand for 2,470 freighters by 2043, a slight reduction from last year’s figure of 2,510. This update comes with a nuanced shift towards new-build aircraft and a higher focus on the replacement market.

Revised Demand Outlook: Key Figures

Airbus's latest projections anticipate the world freighter fleet to increase from the current 2,220 to 3,360 by 2043. This growth is partly due to higher retention of current aircraft, with an estimated 890 aircraft remaining in service, up from the previous forecast of 720. Bob Lange, Airbus’s head of market analysis, emphasized the longevity of new-build freighters, which are expected to serve longer operational lives.

New-Build vs. Converted Aircraft

The demand for new-build aircraft is projected to be 940, while the number of converted aircraft is expected to be around 1,530. This represents a significant shift towards more new-builds than previously anticipated. The balance has also tilted towards higher capacity freighters with payloads of 80 tonnes and above, accounting for 620 aircraft, while the smaller 10-40 tonne single-aisle models will total 970.

Focus on Replacement Over Growth

A notable change in Airbus’s forecast is the higher proportion of deliveries intended for replacement rather than growth. The new forecast suggests that 54% of freighter deliveries will be for replacement purposes, compared to the previous estimate of 50.5%. This shift underscores the industry's move towards modernizing the fleet rather than expanding it.

Economic Context: Trade and GDP Growth

Lange pointed out a convergence of trade growth towards GDP after two decades of faster trade expansion relative to GDP. Airbus figures show that between 2023-2024, world trade is expected to grow by 3.1% per year, with GDP growth at 2.6%. This contrasts with the period from 2003 to 2023, where trade grew at 4.1% annually, and GDP at 2.9%.

Market Segmentation: Express vs. General Cargo

Airbus predicts that the freight market will more than double over the next two decades, driven primarily by the express segment, which is expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.4%, compared to general cargo’s 2.7%. This growth will see the express segment’s market share increase from 20% last year to 25% in 2043, while general cargo will decline from 83% of the market in 2023 to 75% by 2043.

Freight Tonne Kilometers (FTK) Projections

The overall cargo market is set to reach 525 billion freight tonne kilometers (FTK) by 2043, a significant rise from 245 billion FTK last year. Despite air freight accounting for just 1% of total freight volume, it represents 30% of the freight value, highlighting its critical importance in the global supply chain.

Conclusion

Airbus's revised forecast provides a clear indication of the strategic adjustments required in the air cargo sector. With a greater emphasis on new-build freighters, a focus on replacement over growth, and the rising dominance of the express segment, the industry is poised for significant transformation. As trade growth aligns more closely with GDP and the express market expands, stakeholders must adapt to these evolving dynamics to capitalize on the opportunities presented by this shifting landscape.

With Inputs from Air Cargo News

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How Did SpiceJet Manage to Quadruple Its Profit Despite a Revenue Dip

Abhishek Nayar

17 Jul 2024

Budget carrier SpiceJet has astonished market observers with a significant financial turnaround in the January-March quarter of the fiscal year 2023-24. The airline reported a standalone profit of Rs 119 crore, a six-fold increase from the Rs 16.85 crore profit in the same quarter the previous year. This substantial growth is particularly notable given the 20% decline in revenue from operations, which dropped to Rs 1,719.37 crore from Rs 2,144.85 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal year.

Annual Financial Results

For the full fiscal year 2023-24, SpiceJet reported a loss of Rs 409.43 crore. While this figure might seem discouraging at first glance, it's a marked improvement compared to the previous fiscal year's loss of Rs 1,503 crore. This reduction in annual losses demonstrates SpiceJet's resilience and the effectiveness of its strategic measures aimed at financial recovery.

Quarter-on-Quarter Analysis

Interestingly, the airline's financial performance in the December quarter of FY2024 showed a loss of Rs 409.43 crore, starkly contrasting with the profit of Rs 106.82 crore recorded in the December quarter of FY2023. This discrepancy highlights the volatility in the airline's financial landscape, making the Q4 turnaround even more impressive.

Strategic Insights from Leadership

Ajay Singh, SpiceJet's Chairman and Managing Director, attributes this remarkable turnaround to the company's relentless efforts to enhance operational efficiency.

"We announce a strong financial performance in Q4 FY2024, with net profit surging sixfold to Rs 119 crore compared to the same quarter last year. The results reflect our relentless efforts to enhance operational efficiency and our commitment to turning around the company's fortunes," Singh stated.

He further emphasized the airline's future plans, indicating that SpiceJet is exploring opportunities to raise fresh funds to support its growth plans and capitalize on the increasing demand in the Indian aviation market.

Fundraising Initiatives

In January 2023, SpiceJet received in-principle approval from the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) for a significant fund infusion of Rs 2,242 crore. The airline successfully raised Rs 1,060 crore under a preferential issue in two tranches, underscoring its proactive approach to securing the necessary capital for its strategic initiatives.

Conclusion

SpiceJet's ability to post a substantial profit increase amidst declining revenues and a challenging financial environment speaks volumes about its management's strategic acumen and operational efficiency. As the airline continues to explore fundraising opportunities and implement growth-oriented strategies, it positions itself to leverage the burgeoning demand in the Indian aviation market. The coming quarters will be crucial in determining whether SpiceJet can sustain this momentum and achieve long-term financial stability.

With Inputs form Zee Business

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Aviation Capital Group's Major Purchase: A Lifeline for Boeing's 737 MAX Program

Abhishek Nayar

17 Jul 2024

In a significant development for the aviation industry, Aviation Capital Group (ACG), a prominent US-based aircraft leasing company, has announced the purchase of 35 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. This order marks a crucial endorsement for Boeing and its narrowbody aircraft program, bolstering the manufacturer's efforts amid ongoing challenges.

Details of the Purchase

The purchase includes 16 737 MAX 8 and 19 737 MAX 10 aircraft, as confirmed in a joint statement by ACG and Boeing. The latter model, the 737 MAX 10, has yet to receive certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for commercial operations. Nevertheless, the order underscores ACG's commitment to investing in modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, a sentiment echoed by Thomas Baker, ACG's CEO and President.

Strategic Value for ACG

Baker highlighted that the firm order enhances the strategic value of ACG’s order book and supports a key pillar of its growth strategy. “We look forward to supporting our airline customers throughout the world with these highly versatile and fuel-efficient aircraft,” Baker remarked, emphasizing the lessor's dedication to its airline partners.

Boeing's Perspective

Brad McMullen, Boeing's Senior Vice President of Commercial Sales and Marketing, noted that ACG's repeat order showcases the industry's demand for flexible and fuel-efficient fleets. McMullen praised ACG as a valued partner of the 737 MAX program and expressed eagerness to deliver next-generation aircraft to ACG’s customers.

Delivery Timeline and Current Fleet

Although the joint statement did not specify delivery dates or potential customers for the new aircraft, ACG’s parent company, Tokyo Century, indicated that deliveries would be completed by 2031. According to ch-aviation data, ACG has 105 aircraft on order, including various models from Airbus and Boeing.

Currently, ACG manages a fleet that includes 14 737 MAX 8 (13 owned) and four 737 MAX 9 (all owned). These aircraft are operated by airlines such as Copa Airlines, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Hainan Airlines, Icelandair, SCAT Airlines, Sunwing Airlines, TUI Airways, and WestJet.

Boeing's Orders and Market Competition

As of June 30, Boeing had secured 101 orders for the 737 MAX, with American Airlines accounting for 85 of these orders. Additional orders include Alaska Airlines swapping the 737 MAX 9 for a 737 MAX 10 and purchases from three unidentified customers.

Despite the absence of flight demonstrators at the upcoming Farnborough International Airshow, Boeing anticipates securing further orders for the 737 MAX, providing a boost to its commercial efforts in 2024.

Challenges and Market Position

The 737 MAX program has faced significant challenges, including two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. However, the aircraft has performed well for airlines that have chosen the type, maintaining its appeal in the market. Boeing continues to face stiff competition from Airbus, particularly with the success of the A321neo and its derivatives, the A321LR and A321XLR.

Conclusion

ACG's substantial order for Boeing 737 MAX aircraft represents a significant vote of confidence in the aircraft manufacturer. As Boeing navigates a competitive landscape and addresses past challenges, this order underscores the enduring appeal of the 737 MAX and its role in the future of commercial aviation.

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