New Delhi: Indian budget carrier Akasa Air has accused the aviation regulator of causing it “significant financial and operational hardship” by not intervening to stop pilots from abruptly quitting and disrupting operations, legal filings showed.
Over 40 of more than 450 pilots have recently quit Akasa without serving their notice, leading to cancellations of around 18 per cent of the 3,500 flights it usually runs a month in August.
Akasa is suing some of the pilots for alleged contractual violations, and has warned in court that it might have to shut down if the exits continue.
India mandates a notice period of 6-12 months for pilots which some pilot organisations are challenging in court. Akasa argues its contractual obligations with pilots remain in force, and is suing the regulator for not intervening in the public interest.
In its 265-page legal filing, made on September 14, Akasa accused the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of being “unwilling to take any action”, which resulted in “significant financial and operational hardship” as well as “reputational loss”.
The DGCA’s inaction has a “cascading effect on the stability” of the Indian aviation sector, it added.
A DGCA official said the regulator cannot comment, as the case was being heard in court. An Akasa spokesperson said the airline was in discussions with the DGCA on the matter.
The DGCA will present its response at a hearing on Friday.
The airline has denied the claim made by the headline — “May shut down”: Akasa Air cuts flights after more than 40 pilots allegedly quit — in an online article published in The Telegraph.
An Akasa spokesperson said: “Over the last few months, we continue to operate 16 destinations and maintain connectivity amongst these. As of September 14, 2023, we breached the 5 million mark on passengers served and continue to breach the 0.5 million passenger carriage on a monthly basis.”
“Closer in, we are poised to take delivery of several additional aircraft in the remainder of this fiscal year and expand our domestic and international footprint. We also remain on track to announce a 3-digit aircraft order by the end of this year.”