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Pilots seek Indian government help to quit Go First

FILE PHOTO: A man carries his bag as he walks past the Go First airline, formerly known as GoAir, passenger aircrafts parked on the tarmac at the airport in New Delhi

By Aditya Kalra and Arpan Chaturvedi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Pilots at India's Go First face delays getting paid due to the airline's bankruptcy process and want the government to allow them to take up new jobs without serving long notice periods, a group representing the pilots said in a letter seen by Reuters.

In the letter dated May 15, the Federation of Indian Pilots (FIP) asks the aviation ministry to intervene, saying Go First is not issuing the necessary documents to pilots wanting to resign.

Go First and the ministry did not immediately respond to questions.

Go First was granted bankruptcy protection last week, but many pilots have been looking for new jobs in light of the crisis and in early May flocked to a hotel for walk-in interviews organised by rival Air India.

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But an Indian government rule from 2017 mandates pilots to serve a one-year notice period, and co-pilots six months, saying it is in the public interest to avoid sudden departures that can result in last minute flight cancellation and travel disruption.

The FIP said notice periods globally were typically one month, and India should allow pilots at financially distressed airlines to resign immediately.

The block on Go First pilots risks sending "a negative signal that spreads an atmosphere of anxiety and stress amongst pilots," the FIP said in its letter.

The tussle with pilots is the latest headache for Go First, which is also facing a court battle with airline leasing companies over the bankruptcy proceedings, which prevent lessors from taking back their planes from the airline.

Go First blames a lack of engine supplies from Pratt & Whitney for its financial troubles, an allegation the U.S. firm says is without merit.

Go First won an arbitration order in its favour in March to require Pratt to supply spare engines, and is seeking to enforce it in a Delaware court.

On Tuesday, its court filing showed the airline faces the ongoing danger of failure if it doesn't get spare engines quickly.

Pratt has argued the arbitration award is not enforceable.

(Additional reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Mark Potter)