Akasa Air Crisis : Newly established airline, Akasa Air, has encountered significant turbulence in its early days due to a wave of pilot resignations and a subsequent surge in flight cancellations. While the airline initially attributed its woes to the abrupt departure of 43 pilots, a deeper examination of the situation reveals that this may only be one element of a more extensive problem.
Challenges and Flight Cancellations:
Akasa Air has grappled with a series of flight cancellations, witnessing 700 canceled flights in August and 24 daily cancellations in September thus far. Passengers have voiced their frustration regarding the airline’s frequent cancellations, unresponsive customer service, and delayed refund processes. Social media platforms have been inundated with expressions of dissatisfaction from travelers.
Legal Action Against Pilots:
In response to the pilot resignations, Akasa Air has taken legal action against the 43 pilots who left without fulfilling their notice period obligations. The airline has also filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court, seeking penal action against 36 of these pilots, with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation participating in the legal proceedings.
While Vinay Dube, the CEO of Akasa Air, has asserted that reports of a potential shutdown are speculative, he did acknowledge the airline’s decision to reduce flights temporarily and relinquish market share in order to ensure reliable operations following the pilot departures.
The airline emphasized that a “small set of pilots” abandoning their duties and not adhering to contractual notice periods caused disruptions between July and September, leading to last-minute cancellations and inconveniences for passengers.
Industry experts and insiders have suggested that Akasa Air’s challenges may extend beyond pilot resignations. Captain Shakti Lumba, a retired industry veteran, pointed out that a sudden pilot exodus alone is unlikely to be the sole reason for flight reductions, as airlines typically hire pilots well in advance of their requirements.
Another industry executive noted that airlines usually cut back flights only when approximately 20 percent of their workforce leaves simultaneously.
Akasa Air countered these issues, stating that it has adequate pilots in various stages of training to operate over 30 aircraft. The airline asserted its readiness for unforeseen circumstances and contingency management strategies, citing a ten-year plan covering pilot recruitment, training, and career progression.
The situation with Akasa Air underscores the complexities and challenges faced by new airlines in the highly competitive aviation industry, particularly when dealing with unexpected disruptions like pilot resignations.