Business Standard

Ajay Singh, Busy Bee bid for Go First

Sharjah-based aviation services company Sky One also announced submitting its bid for the airline

- DEEPAK PATEL

“GO FIRST HOLDS IM MENSE POTENTIAL, AND COULD BE REVITALISE­D TO WORK IN CLOSE SYNERGY WITH SPICEJET, BENEFITING

BOTH CARRIERS”

Spicejet promoter Ajay Singh and Busy Bee Airways Private Ltd (BBAPL) have jointly submitted a bid for insolvent airline Go First, which ceased to fly in May last year.moreover, Sharjah-based aviation services company Sky One announced submitting a bid for the airline.

BBAPL, an East Delhi-based company, has Paul Gomes and Pran Sathiadasa­n as 50-50 shareholde­rs, according to the latest documents filed with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in November 2023, which have been reviewed by Business Standard.

Currently, Sathiadasa­n is also director of commercial operations, South East Asia, Flydubai, an airline operated by the United Arab Emirates government.

According to documents, BBAPL reported no income in 2021-22, but its income rose to ~96,300 in 2022-23. It recorded a net loss of ~6,800 in 2021-22, but turned a profit of ~80,906 in 2022-23.

BBAPL has not submitted any documents to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs regarding changes in ownership in 2023 or 2024. BBAPL did not immediatel­y respond to queries emailed by Business Standard regarding the bid.

Ajay Singh, chairman and managing

director of Spicejet, said in a statement he believed Go First held immense potential and could be revitalise­d to work in close synergy with Spicejet, benefiting both carriers.

Apart from coveted slots at domestic and internatio­nal airports, internatio­nal traffic rights, and an order for over 100 Airbus Neo planes, Gofirst is a trusted and valued brand among flyers, he said.

While Spicejet has recently raised certain funds, the airline has been facing a cash crunch for several quarters. It is also dealing with multiple court cases regarding money owed to former owner Kalanithi Maran, financial services firm Credit Suisse, aircraft lessors, and engine lessors. Earlier this month, Spicejet said it was laying off a certain percentage of employees to save up to ~100 crore per year.

Jaideep Mirchandan­i, chairman, Sky One, said: “We have submitted the bid for Go First and look forward to the next stage, which is due diligence. Given our vast aviation experience across the globe, we are confident about the acquisitio­n. Indian aviation is on the cusp of unpreceden­ted growth and we are glad to play a part in it.”

On January 11, Spicejet’s shareholde­rs gave their approval to raise ~2,241.5 crore through equity and warrants — ~1,591.5 crore by issuing equity to 58 entities and ~650 crore through warrants on a preferenti­al basis to five other entities. On January 26, the first tranche of ~744 crore (of the ~2,241.5 crore) was infused into the airline.

The 63 entities include financial institutio­ns, foreign institutio­nal investors, highnet-worth individual­s, and private investors such as the Elara India Opportunit­ies Fund and Aries Opportunit­ies Fund.

After Go First airline stopped operating flights on May 3, its lessors had put in applicatio­ns with the Directorat­e General of Civil Aviation to repossess more than 40 of the airline’s 54 planes. However, the National Company Law Tribunal on May 10 last year put a moratorium on all Go First’s assets, debarring the lessors from taking their planes back. Multiple lessors of Go First have filed an appeal in the higher tribunal and courts to repossess the planes.

The resolution profession­al had last year called for bids. Naveen Jindal-led Jindal Power had in October 2023 submitted an expression of interest. However, Jindal did not submit a financial bid after due diligence.

Spicejet has been using various avenues to raise cash.

In 2022-23, the airline raised ~449.8 crore under the central government’s Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS).

 ?? ?? AJAY SINGH, Chairman & MD, Spicejet
AJAY SINGH, Chairman & MD, Spicejet
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