Tata and IndiGo prepare to swoop on Go Air’s aviation assets

India’s biggest conglomerate and largest airline are in talks to take Airbus SE planes from Go Airlines India Ltd. after the carrier filed for insolvency protection and was ordered to stop selling tickets.

Tata Group and IndiGo are holding separate negotiations with Go Air’s lessors, as well as discussing landing and parking slots with airport operators, including in New Delhi and Mumbai, according to people familiar with the matter.

Go Air’s lessors are seeking to repossess 36 aircraft, filings with India’s aviation regulator show.

Several other parties have also expressed interest in the airport slots, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are confidential. New carrier Akasa Air is among them, one of the people said.

The clamor for Go Air’s assets may complicate its bid to restructure debt and restart operations. India’s aviation regulator told the carrier to stop selling tickets on Monday, reminiscent of when fugitive billionaire Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. was ordered to do the same about a decade ago. It never flew again. A decision is due in two weeks on whether Go Air can keep its operating license.

Go Air’s biggest lessors include Sky High XCV Leasing Ltd., ACG Aircraft Leasing Ireland Ltd. and SMBC Aviation Capital Ltd.

Founded in 2005 by magnate Nusli Wadia, Go Air has said Pratt & Whitney engines on its A320neo aircraft deteriorated faster than expected and prematurely stopped working.

The airline said it had to change more than 500 Pratt GTF engines between 2016 and February 2023, forcing planes out of service and leading to losses of 108 billion rupees ($1.3 billion).

Pratt, a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp., has previously said the Go Air matter is being considered by law courts and that it continues to prioritize delivery schedules for customers.

Supply disruptions and a faster-than-anticipated travel recovery from the pandemic have resulted in a shortage of new commercial jetliners, so Go Air’s troubles present another avenue for the likes of Tata and IndiGo to expand their fleets.

Tata took over formerly state-run Air India last year and is integrating its brands, including local ventures of Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Capital A Bhd.’s AirAsia.

The flag carrier placed a record order for 470 planes from Airbus and Boeing Co. in February, with deliveries due to start from the end of this year, but supply-chain snags could threaten that timeline.

Budget operator IndiGo, managed by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., flew 7.3 million people domestically in March, cornering almost 60 percent percent of the Indian market.

Given the difficulties in repossessing aircraft in India in the past, lessors would prefer to keep Go Air’s idled planes in India, one of the people said.

The airline’s other lessors include GY Aviation Lease Co. and Pembroke Aircraft leasing Ltd.

Representatives for Go Air and Air India didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for IndiGo said the company doesn’t comment on speculation.

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