New Delhi: Akasa Air, a new entrant in the Indian aviation sector, is facing a severe crisis as it disclosed to the Delhi High Court that it may have to cancel as many as 600-700 flights this month. The reason behind this predicament is the sudden resignation of 43 of its pilots, who did not serve their notice periods as per their contracts.
The airline, which started its operations in August 2022, has been struggling to cope with the massive disruption caused by the loss of its workforce. It has been forced to ground several of its planes and leave thousands of passengers stranded or inconvenienced. The airline has also taken legal action against the pilots who quit without notice, seeking about Rs 22 crore in damages for the revenue losses and operational costs incurred due to the flight cancellations.
The situation has also tarnished the reputation of Akasa Air, which has received a barrage of complaints from angry and frustrated customers. The airline has blamed Air India Express, another low-cost carrier, for poaching its pilots by offering them better incentives and opportunities. Some of the former Akasa pilots have corroborated this allegation, saying that they preferred to work for Air India Express because of its Boeing 737 aircraft fleet, which is more advanced and comfortable than Akasa’s.
The departure of the pilots has also exposed the vulnerability of Akasa Air, which relies heavily on Boeing 737 pilots, who are in short supply in India compared to Airbus A320 pilots. The airline’s ability to recruit and retain enough pilots is crucial for its financial viability and growth prospects, especially as it plans to expand its domestic and international operations. The airline currently has 20 aircraft in its fleet and has recently obtained permission to fly to foreign destinations.
Moreover, Akasa Air needs to address the dissatisfaction and discontent among its remaining pilots, who have expressed their unhappiness over the changes in their salary structure. Some of the pilots who resigned have claimed that the airline violated their contractual terms by reducing their pay without their consent. This unexpected exodus of talent has created a serious challenge for Akasa Air, which had earlier celebrated its achievements and milestones in the competitive Indian aviation market.