Indian budget airline GoAir rebrands as GoFirst ahead of IPO

Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Wadia Group-controlled no-frills carrier GoAir has been rebranded GoFirst ahead of its proposed initial public offering (IPO).

The rebranding comes at a time when a large chunk of the air passenger traffic has been wiped out over the last fortnight by the second wave of covid-19 infections.

The purpose of rebranding is to operate the carrier in an ultra-low-cost airline model, which would give it a competitive advantage over its peers, the airline said in a statement on Thursday.

“At the heart of this revamp is the full embrace of the ultra-low-cost airline model,” the airline said in a statement on Thursday. “And it is this competitive advantage that enables it to offer its customers a combination of ultra-competitive fares and a safe flying experience.”

An ultra-low cost carrier (ULCC) is different from a low cost carrier (LCC) as they typically operate different business models with unbundled fares which result in cheaper ticket prices.

For instance, on an ULCC, passengers have to pay extra for baggage, while selection of seat 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 a fee.

Most Indian airlines like IndiGo, SpiceJet, and AirAsia India operate on a low-cost model.

“Consumers in India are hugely value conscious but are quite demanding when it comes to flying experience,” said the airline’s vice chairman Ben Baldanza.

“The combinations of attractive airfares, a squeaky-clean flying experience, well sanitized flights and on time performance is what Go First is designed to deliver,” he added.

Mint had on 12 May reported that GoAir, now Go First, will complete its IPO process by the end of the current calendar year.

The airline also put in place a professional management in anticipation of the IPO.

GoAir, which started operations in 2005, had in March said that Jeh Wadia (son of company’s chairman Nusli Wadia) had stepped down as the managing director, while industry veteran Ben Baldanza, who once headed US-based ultra low cost carrier Spirit Airlines, had joined its board as vice-chairman.

Baldanza will work directly with the management team, comprising chief executive officer (CEO) Kaushik Khona and chief financial officer (CFO) Pankaj Chaturvedi to achieve the next phase of growth, GoAir had then said.

GoAir reported a net loss of 1,278.60 crore in FY20 compared with a net profit of 123.34 crore during FY19 according to latest figures from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).

According to figures compiled by research platform Tofler, the airline’s net worth stood negative at 1,500 at the end of 31 March 2020 , while cash and cash equivalents stood at 112 crore.

The article was first published on livemint.com.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.