Launched just a year ago, the Indian low cost Akasa Air knows his first major crisistriggered by pilots who resigned without giving notice.
Akasa Air said it canceled 600 flights in August due to 43 pilots who “abandoned their duties” and left without respecting the obligatory contractual notice, which resulted in a disruption of the flight schedule. And it would be forced to cancel up to 700 more flights in September if the resignations continued.
“We have chosen to fly less and cede market share… these are only short-term constraints“, Akasa Air chief executive Vinay Dube said in an email to employees Tuesday, adding that the airline had “fsolid inances” and that she was confident in the future. Akasa Air took legal action against resigning pilots, many of whom joined the rival airline Air India Express (low cost subsidiary of Air India), and contacted the Indian aviation regulatory authority to enforce the notice period.
The crisis facing Akasa Air comes at a time of deep polarization in Indian air transport, with IndiGo, the country’s largest airline, and Air India, owned by the Tata conglomerate, controlling almost two-thirds of the market. Alongside these two giants, other airlines like Go Air, SpiceJet and Akasa Air are trying to find a place in the Indian sky. Founded by Vinay Dube and former IndiGo chairman Aditya Ghosh in 2022, Akasa Air saw its market share fall to 4.2% in August from 5.2% the previous month.
Akasa Air currently operates a fleet of 20 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to serve a domestic network and expects 56 more on order. Last week it obtained permission from the Indian civil aviation ministry to launch an international network.