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Akasa’s Pilot Issues Are Behind Us, ‘Dead Set Against’ No-poaching Pact: Airline CEO – News18

Akasa’s Pilot Issues Are Behind Us, ‘Dead Set Against’ No-poaching Pact: Airline CEO – News18

Akasa Air, which has been flying for more than a year, has more than 450 pilots and the number will go up as it expands the fleet from 20 aircraft now. (Image: News18/File)

Akasa Air, which has been flying for more than a year, has more than 450 pilots and the number will go up as it expands the fleet from 20 aircraft now. (Image: News18/File)

Following the sudden exit of pilots, many of whom apparently joined another carrier, Akasa Air had to cancel some flights in July and August

Akasa Air might be slowly coming out of the turbulence caused by sudden pilots’ exits but the airline’s chief Vinay Dube is “dead set against” the idea of having any kind of no-poaching agreement between airlines, asserting that it will not be right. The airline, which has been flying for more than a year, has more than 450 pilots and the number will go up as it expands the fleet from 20 aircraft now.

“We had about 330 pilots in April. Approximately, 40 went away without (serving) notice period or with one day, two days or less than 24 hours. Today, we have little over 450 pilots… between April and today, we have probably added about a third of additional pilots despite a small number leaving,” Akasa Air Founder and CEO Vinay Dube told PTI.

Following the sudden exit of pilots, many of whom apparently joined another carrier, Akasa Air had to cancel some flights in July and August. The carrier’s market share also took a hit due to the cancellations. Also, the airline has initiated legal action against the pilots concerned.

While noting that the exit of some pilots without serving their notice periods was unprecedented, Dube said he does not think anything is needed at the airline industry level to prevent such instances in the future. “We got the judicial clarity. So, I don’t think anything is required actually. The matter is behind us and really now, we are squarely in growth mode. The expectation is that our network will grow by 10 per cent in December and then over 33 per cent by March. So, really this is not an issue and nothing is required,” he said.

To a query on whether there is a need for a no-poaching agreement among the airlines for pilots, the Akasa Air chief replied in the negative. “Not at all. Absolutely not. I am dead set against it. I think pilots like any other employees should be completely allowed to work with whatever airline they want and I don’t believe that the airlines should collude on this topic at all. I don’t think there is a need and I don’t think it is right,” he said.

At present, Akasa Air operates around 700 weekly flights and expects to have a total of 25 planes by the end of this financial year. Against the backdrop of alleged differences between the airline and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on the pilots’ issue, Dube said the regulator has always been incredibly helpful and efficient.

“From the very beginning, we got our AOC (Air Operator Certificate) and the airline started in less than 24 months. That is as efficient as it gets from the regulatory perspective. It is just that the judicial order that was passed lacked a bit of clarity from their perspective which were able to get subsequently. I would not say they were not helpful because they were incredibly helpful and efficient. We have the clarity now and it says that pilots need to respect the contractual notice period,” Dube said.

About competition in the Indian aviation market, especially when it comes to airfares, Dube said he thinks India and Indian consumers have some of the most attractive fares when compared to other mature aviation economies despite the fact that a large chunk of the cost structure of the Indian aviation sits with dollar currency.

“Fuel is pegged to dollar in Brent, good chunk of maintenance is pegged to dollar, our aircraft leasing is pegged to dollar. Given that, Indian consumers have some of the best fares relative to other large aviation economies. I think there is a good amount of competition and by the way, we are happy to compete,” he said.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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