Go First court decision delivers big win for aircraft lessors

Empty seats are seen at a Go First ticketing counter at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai

By Arpan Chaturvedi and Tanvi Mehta

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Lessors with aircraft stranded at Indian airline Go First can take back their planes, a local court ruled on Friday, nearly a year after the carrier declared bankruptcy.

Foreign lessors have been locked in a legal tussle to repossess their planes after Go First was granted bankruptcy protection in May 2023, with the recovery of more than 50 Airbus planes blocked under a law in place at the time.

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) Capital, ACG Aircraft Leasing and other lessors, which were allowed only occasional inspections of their grounded planes, took the matter to court.

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the aviation regulator to deregister the aircraft within five working days.

Go First is restrained from "entering, accessing or in any manner operating or flying any of the aircraft," the court said.

India amended its insolvency law in October to exclude leased aircraft from assets that can be frozen, aligning the world's third largest aviation market with global standards.

Go First has said that agreeing to the lessors' demands could derail the airline's turnaround process, according to court filings seen by Reuters in September.

The airline has received bids from budget carrier SpiceJet and Sharjah-based Sky One Airways, Reuters previously reported.

The airline's resolution professional did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta and Arpan Chaturvedi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly, Kirsten Donovan)