By Ragini Saxena
Go Airlines India Ltd.’s plans to raise Rs 3,600 crore ($485 million) via an initial public offering have been put on hold by market regulator Sebi, dealing another blow to the debt-laden carrier whose business has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Go Airlines’ share sale documents will be “kept in abeyance,” the Securities and Exchange Board of India said in a filing late Monday, without specifying the reason why.
A spokeswoman for Go Airlines said the company hasn’t received any communication from Sebi.
That delay is sure to be damaging to Go Airlines, which was depending on the IPO proceeds to repay debt and dues to creditors including Indian Oil Corp. Go Airlines, a no-frills carrier controlled by the Wadia Group, is saddled with obligations that totalled around Rs 8,160 crore billion rupees as of mid-April, according to its preliminary prospectus.
Any recovery in air travel in India also looks to be postponed, with fears record vaccinations may not stop a deadly third wave. Indian carriers will need about over Rs 37,000 crore to survive but only have access to about Rs 8,170 crore through share offerings and other means, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation. IndiGo, India’s biggest carrier, and the nation’s flag carrier, Air India Ltd., will account for the bulk of the nearly Rs 6,000 crore in losses by 2022, CAPA said.
To survive, Go Airlines furloughed around 3,800 employees from April through June last year and introduced graded pay cuts for management staff, starting with 50 per cent for the chief executive officer and rising to 5 per cent, according to its prospectus.
The second-biggest customer for Airbus SE, Go Airlines has also deferred the induction of new aircraft due to the pandemic and is in the process of re-negotiating with the planemaker, it said. Of the 144 Airbus A320 neo aircraft on order, Go Airlines is awaiting delivery of 98 planes.
“The Covid pandemic has had an adverse impact on our business, operating results, financial condition and liquidity, and the duration and spread of the pandemic or another pandemic could result in additional adverse impact,” Go Airlines said in the sale document.