Akasa Air, a 14-month-old low-cost carrier, is taking steps to resolve the operational crisis it has been facing due to the sudden resignation of pilots in recent months. This crisis has resulted in numerous flight cancellations and route suspensions. To address these challenges, the airline has devised a contingency plan.
The plan includes:
- Pilot Recruitment: Akasa Air is in the process of hiring 110 new pilots in the coming days. The abrupt resignation of pilots in the past had a significant impact on flight operations.
- Increased Connectivity: The airline aims to enhance its connectivity by 30-35% by the end of the current fiscal year. This will be achieved by improving weekly flight operations.
The airline has experienced varying cancellation rates over the past few months. For instance, in August, cancellation rates reached 1.17%, which subsequently decreased to 0.37% in September, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Akasa Air had previously suspended its Bengaluru-Chennai flight services in June as part of a “network optimization process” and temporarily reduced operations between Bengaluru and Hyderabad due to pilot capacity issues resulting from resignations.
Industry sources suggest that the abrupt resignations of Akasa Air pilots were prompted by other airline companies’ large-scale hiring as they expanded their operations, following substantial orders for aircraft worth billions of dollars.
Praveen Iyer, Chief Commercial Officer and Co-founder of Akasa Air, explained that some pilots left with very short notice, causing disruptions to flight scheduling. However, the airline ensured customer protection by offering seats on other airlines through ticket purchases, a practice not commonly seen in the industry.
As part of the contingency plan, Akasa Air intends to increase weekly flight operations by 10% by December and significantly boost connectivity by 30-35% by the end of the current fiscal year. The airline is committed to adding capacity and expanding its network.
Akasa Air also emphasized its cautious approach moving forward and expressed its intention not to resort to “cut backs” after expanding its workforce and operations, particularly during the festive season when aviation experiences peak demand.
According to DGCA data, Akasa Air had a market share of 4.9% and carried over 6 lakh passengers by the end of June, marking the end of the first quarter of the current fiscal year. However, due to the pilot resignations, the airline’s passenger count decreased by nearly a lakh to 5.17 lakh in September, at the end of the second quarter, with a slight decrease in market share by 0.7%.