Fan blades, engine parts go missing from Go First jets, lessor says

FILE PHOTO: A man carries his bag as he walks past the Go First airline, formerly known as GoAir, passenger aircrafts parked on the tarmac at the airport in New Delhi

By Aditi Shah and Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - From fan blades to escape slides, critical parts are missing from at least two planes of India's bankrupt Go First airline, its Ireland-based lessor ACG Aircraft Leasing has told a court as it seeks to recover aircraft.

Go First and many of its foreign lessors have been locked in a legal dispute for months after the airline was granted bankruptcy protection in India in May. Bankruptcy froze its assets and has prohibited the recovery of more than 50 grounded Airbus planes.

The lessors have so far unsuccessfully argued in Indian courts to get their planes back, citing concerns that parts could go missing and hurt their assets. Lessors are allowed only occasional inspection of Go First planes.

ACG is seeking to take back planes by highlighting that inspections showed parts were missing, but the court has yet to decide on the matter, a person familiar with the case said on Saturday.

In a non-public filing dated July 28 and reviewed by Reuters, ACG submitted pictures and details to the Delhi High Court, listing missing parts from two Airbus A320 planes it inspected.

These included the captain's "side stick" used to fly the aircraft, a tiller that helps steer it while on the ground, engine fan blades that were "completely missing", a partly missing toilet seat and an escape slide that had been removed.

The filing does not say who took out the parts or how they went missing.

Go First, whose lessors also include Standard Chartered's Pembroke Aircraft Leasing, SMBC Aviation and BOC Aviation, did not respond to a request for comment. It has previously said it aims to resume operations and raise investor funds, but the operations remain grounded.

The world's second-largest aircraft lessor, SMBC, warned in May that India's decision to block leasing firms from reclaiming Go planes would jolt the market and spark a confidence crisis.

Go blames its financial woes on problems with engines from Raytheon-owned Pratt & Whitney. The U.S. engine maker has said the claims are "without merit".

(Reporting by Aditi Shah and Aditya Kalra; Editing by William Mallard)