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A GoAir Airbus A320 taxis in Mumbai (Photo: Sean d’Silva [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons)

India’s GoAir Rebranded as GoFirst

Wadia Group-controlled budget carrier GoAir has filed for an initial public offering to raise 36 billion rupees ($491 million) and reinvented itself as GoFirst, after fifteen years of flying.

This move comes as airlines try to boost finances to cope with the continuous disruptions caused by the pandemic waves hitting India.

India’s second wave of Covid-19 cases has been taking a tragic toll on the aviation industry, especially on the domestic airlines which were still in the process of taking then-initial steps back towards new normality after a previous nationwide lockdown disrupted flight operations for several months last year.

Currently, the backdrop of the aviation industry shows a battle with extremely low passenger numbers and even stricter travel regulations as more countries close their borders from India, in fear of the highly infectious Covid-19 strain.

The company plans to use the money raised from the IPO to settle debts and loans, which total more than 20 billion rupees (US$273.0 million), it said in a filing.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on our business … the duration and spread of the pandemic or another pandemic could result in an additional adverse impact on our business,” GoFirst said in the filing.

Rebranding for the Better

With the youngest average fleet among Indian low-cost carriers (LCCs), currently, with fifty-five Airbus A320neos, GoFirst is positioned to get ahead of its competition with an ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) model.

A ULCC is different from an LCC as they typically operate different business models with unbundled fares which result in cheaper ticket prices.

For instance, on a ULCC, passengers have to pay extra for baggage, while the selection of seats and food are subject to an additional fee. ULCCs also have fewer amenities than simple low-cost carriers, and therefore have a greater range of add-ons for additional fees.

Most Indian airlines such as AirAsia India, Indigo and SpiceJet operate on an LCC model.

The airline’s vice-chairman Ben Baldanza said India is a fast-growing aviation market and local passengers are mostly value-conscious, especially in such dire economic times, but yet still demand a proper flying experience.

“The combinations of attractive airfares, a squeaky-clean flying experience, well-sanitized flights and on-time performance is what GoFirst is designed to deliver. And, that is exactly at the core of our brand and service,” Baldanza further said.

The airline noted that it is this “competitive advantage” that enables it to offer its customers a combination of “ultra-competitive”, as it also looks forward to taking delivery of ninety-eight more aircraft starting this year.

A new rebranded livery will have contemporary graphics with a bolder, brighter blue.

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