The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday directed three aircraft lessors of Go First to approach NCLT over their claims for possession of aircraft, whose leases were terminated by them prior to initiation of insolvency proceedings against the Wadia group entity. The appellate tribunal directed Accipiter Investments Aircraft 2, Eos Aviation 12 (Ireland) and ACG Aircraft Leasing Ireland to go to NCLT over the applicability of the moratorium on their aircraft. “The facts and submissions raised in these appeals are same as has been considered and decided by our judgment and order dated May 22, 2023” hence these “also deserve to be decided in the same terms”.
On May 22, the NCLAT upheld the order of the Delhi-based Principal bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which had earlier this month admitted the plea of Go First to initiate voluntary insolvency resolution proceedings and appointed an interim resolution professional (IRP) to suspend the company’s board. The last order of NCLAT had come over a batch of petitions filed by four lessors – SMBC Aviation Capital Ltd, GY Aviation, SFV Aircraft Holdings and Engine Leasing Finance BV (ELFC) – owning around 22 aeroplanes. Three more lessors – Accipiter Investments Aircraft 2, Eos Aviation 12 (Ireland) and ACG Aircraft Leasing Ireland – had approached the appellate tribunal before another bench comprising Chairperson Justice Ashok Bhushan and Member (Technical) Naresh Salecha.
The previous matter in which the order was passed on Monday was before a bench having different composition – which consisted of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Member (Technical) Barun Mitra. With this, the total number of aircraft lessors challenging the insolvency proceedings of the crisis hit Go First has become seven. On Tuesday, Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) and the suspended board of Go First filed caveats before the Supreme Court to ensure that they must be heard over any petitions filed by four aircraft lessors before passing any order. In its order, NCLAT on Monday directed the lessors to approach NCLT regarding the claim of possession and other respective claims relating to the aircraft whose leases were terminated by the lessors after the company filed for insolvency process.
Disposing of their pleas through a 40-page-long common order, the NCLAT said lessors are at “liberty to file” appropriate application before NCLT under Section 65 of the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code (IBC) with “appropriate pleadings and material” regarding their claims. “The appellants, as well as IRP, are at liberty to make appropriate Application before the Adjudicating Authority (NCLT) for declaration with regard to the applicability of the moratorium on the aircraft with regard to which Leases in favour of the Corporate Applicant (Go First) were terminated prior to admission of Section 10 Application, which Application needs to be considered and decided by the Adjudicating Authority in accordance with the law,” it had said.So far this month, several lessors have approached aviation regulator DGCA for deregistration and repossession of Go First’s 45 planes. Go First stopped flying on May 3.