Go First lessor seeks replacement of parts “robbed” from grounded planes in India

By Aditi Shah and Arpan Chaturvedi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – An Ireland-based lessor wants India’s bankrupt Go First airline to replace “robbed” parts from its leased jets and allow it to appoint round the clock security to guard grounded aircraft, the latest escalation in efforts to reclaim its Airbus planes.

The plea, detailed in a Sept. 1 non-public court filing at the Delhi High Court which Reuters has reviewed, comes weeks after ACG Aircraft Leasing found critical parts, including fan blades and escape slides, missing from at least two of the four planes it has leased to Go First.

Go First has been locked in legal disputes with many of its foreign lessors since being granted bankruptcy protection in India in May. Bankruptcy froze its assets and has prohibited the recovery of more than 50 grounded Airbus planes.

But plane parts went missing, ACG said, and lessors have so far unsuccessfully argued in Indian courts to get their planes back despite raising fears about cannibalisation of aircraft.

Currently, lessors can only occasionally inspect Go planes. The lessor asked Go on Aug. 24 for a “robbery list”, but Go in response said there were no court directions to provide such documentation, court papers shows.

In its latest plea, court papers show ACG has asked the Delhi judge to allow it to “contract 24 hour security for all its aircraft” and “to replace all components that were robbed from the aircraft.”

It is also seeking recovery of an engine it alleges Go First has installed in another lessor’s plane.

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.

The court is yet to pass an order on ACG’s plea, and the case will next be heard on Sept. 13.

Planes are “akin to perishable goods” and if they are not preserved properly, “they disintegrate at a rapid pace, causing huge irreparable loss,” ACG’s 140-page filing states.

Go 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.

(Reporting by Aditi Shah and Arpan Chaturvedi in New Delhi; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)