Florida-based NS Aviation has expressed its interest in acquiring bankrupt Indian airline GoFirst Airways. As a result of a good number of interests, airline lenders have decided to enhance the bidding deadline to provide companies with more time.
NS Aviation Wants GoFirst
NS Aviation, a Florida-based aviation company has announced its intent to acquire GoFirst Airways. This is the fourth company to express its interest in the beleaguered airline. If you are an Indian aviation geek following Indian aviation for the last few years, the name NS Aviation has been heard before.
Yes, this is the same aviation company, which acquired an 85 percent stake in TruJet Airlines in mid-2023. We will talk more about NS Aviation in the later part of this article. As of now, let us get back to the topic.
Apart from NS Aviation, three other companies interested in acquiring grounded airline GoFirst are Indian budget carrier SpiceJet, Africa-focused Safrik Investments, and Sharjah-based Sky One Company.
Bidding Deadline Extended
Earlier, the airline invited Expressions of Interest for stake exchange. The airline received two major EoIs – one from Naveen Jindal-backed Jindal Power Ltd and the other from Startup airline Jettwings Airways. Due to non-eligibility, the EoI from Jettwings was disqualified. The airline was hoping Jindal Power to go ahead for bidding but it refrained from doing so.
Jindal Power Ltd was unable to find the exact valuation of the airline. As a result of which, it stayed away from the airline business. Most of the aircraft of GoFirst are leased and are assets of lessors, not the airline. Because of this, the airline has less valuation.
The EoI submission deadline of November 22 passed. After this, lenders started talking about liquidation. But then, the above-stated companies came together and expressed interest in acquiring the airline. Lenders conducted an online voting to determine whether the deadline should be extended or not. Eventually, it decided to extend the deadline.
The next deadline for submission of an Expression of Interest (EOI) is January 19. The deadline for submission of bids is January 31. On February 4, the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) will end as per the current court directive. However, the Resolution Professional has the power to extend it by 90 more days.
GoFirst has total liabilities of ₹11,463 crore, with bank dues accounting for ₹6,521 crore. The primary creditors in this lawsuit include the Central Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Deutsche Bank, and IDBI Bank.
Who is NS Aviation?
Now, let us talk in a detailed way about NS Aviation. It is a Florida-based company with 2 founders. Details of the founders are below:
- Dr Mohammad Ali, a surgeon and global investor specifically in the aviation space
- Isha Ali, is an engineer, aviation geek, and entrepreneur.
It came into the media limelight when it invested Rs 450 crore in the airline for an exchange of 85% equity. This transaction occurred in June 2023.
As per the airline website, it has huge plans to expand its fleet to 100 aircraft within a period of 3 years. The airline intended to launch flights by the end of 2023 with a fleet of 25 Airbus A320neo jets. The airline will target major cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata & Hyderabad as its main airports for initial operations. It also has international plans.
Apart from passenger services, the airline was also looking to buy 10 Airbus dedicated freighters for cargo operations.
All of these were planned by the end of 2023. 2023 has ended and today is the 14th of January 2024. The airline has not even renewed its Air Operator Certificate from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). It will be interesting to see if this airline turns into reality or if this is another Interups in the making.
In April 2022, a US-based firm Interups signed a stake exchange agreement with TruJet. The firm even announced its plan to introduce a fleet of around 50 Airbus A220 and 50 Embraer E2 jets. But these plans remained only on paper. They never materialized.