New Delhi, September 20, 2023 - Akasa Air, the newly-launched Indian airline, is teetering on the brink of closure following the abrupt resignation of 43 pilots. This dire situation was presented to the Delhi High Court on Tuesday, casting a cloud of uncertainty over the carrier's future. The exodus of pilots has already forced the airline to cancel 24 flights per day throughout September, causing severe disruptions to its operations.
In response to the crisis, Akasa Air released a statement assuring the public that they are prepared for "unforeseen circumstances and have contingency management strategies" in place. They also emphasized their strong financial standing, attempting to allay concerns about their viability.
The root cause of this crisis lies in the pilots' failure to serve their mandatory notice periods of 6 months for first officers and 1 year for captains. Consequently, Akasa Air has been compelled to cancel a significant number of flights each day, leading to operational chaos.
Reports suggest that the resigned pilots have joined rival airlines, raising ethical and professional concerns. A senior executive from Akasa Air reportedly expressed their discontent with this situation in a letter to a rival group, deeming the pilots' exit unethical.
As things currently stand, Akasa Air, which operates 120 flights daily, anticipates the cancellation of 600-700 flights in September alone if resignations persist. They had already canceled 700 flights in August, severely impacting their reputation and causing inconvenience to passengers. To mitigate further damage, the airline has approached the Delhi High Court, seeking an order to empower the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to enforce mandatory notice period rules.
Additionally, Akasa Air is pursuing legal action against the departing pilots and seeking approximately Rs 22 crore in compensation for the loss of revenue incurred due to flight cancellations and groundings.
In a statement, the airline acknowledged the pilot shortage and expressed their determination to weather the storm. They asserted that their disciplined approach and strong financial profile would help them execute their ambitious plans.
Last week, Akasa Air announced its intention to seek legal recourse against pilots who left without honoring their contractual notice periods. They condemned this act as not only illegal but also unethical and selfish, emphasizing that it disrupted flights, inconvenienced passengers, and showed a lack of respect for the airline's dedicated team.
As the airline industry grapples with the fallout from the pilot resignations, the fate of Akasa Air hangs in the balance. The airline's commitment to resolving the crisis and safeguarding its financial stability remains a focal point in these challenging times.