Is Akasa Air Having Trouble Safe Landing?
Created on 20 Sep 2023
Wraps up in 5 Min
Read by 1.6k people
Updated on 08 Nov 2023
We always receive advice to follow in our forefathers’ footsteps. A newly formed aviation company, Akasa Air, seems to be doing just that by following in the footsteps of its predecessors, Kingfisher Airlines, Deccan Aviation, and Jet Airways. All these airlines went off fast in the success lane, and then one big resistance led to their ultimate demise.
Akasa Air took flight in August 2022 and beat top competitors like SpiceJet and Go First in market share in just a year. With a promising start and a celebration of its first anniversary, Akasa Air had the best journey an airline company has seen in India. Founder & CEO Vinay Dube took a chance in difficult times, and his risk paid off with Akasa Air.
But then a huge speed bump came in their path, and things went haywire.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Associates' backed Akasa expressed to be in “a state of crisis” and has pointed out that the airline may be shutting down business for good. All this happened due to the abrupt leaving of 43 pilots from the airline. The news couldn’t have come at a worse time, as Akasa was planning on expanding to international waters soon.
India’s latest airline company sure went from; 👇
to be filled with these kinds of negative reviews:
“Reschedule flight multiple times”, “highly unreliable flight schedule”, and “Akasa helpline number is useless”.
What exactly happened that caused this massive change in just 13 months? Let’s find out!
Horde of Runaway Pilots
It started in mid to late August 2023 when several customers expressed disappointment with Akasa. Problems like cancelled flights, abrupt rescheduling of flights, delayed refunds, and long wait times to get in touch with airlines’ customer service started surfacing on social media platforms. Customers were furious due to the continuous inconvenience caused and were saddened with no appropriate feedback.
After all, the birth and uprising of Akasa Air was nothing short of a miracle. At that time, the aviation industry was facing black times due to a variety of issues like mismanagement, lack of funds, overpriced fuel, fluctuating demand and so on. Akasa Air swiftly dealt with these issues, and people were happy to travel in this new and well-designed airline service.
For a 13-month-old airline, being part of the top competition in a sector is applaudable. The above pie chart portrays how swiftly Akasa Air was stealing its competitors' market share in the aviation industry.
Plus, the airline was backed by one of the most successful investors in India, the late Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. Before his untimely demise, Jhunjhunwala held 47% stakes in Akasa Air with a $50 million investment, and sources say that he had big plans for the new airline company. In August 2022, he passed away, and uncertainty started surrounding Akasa Air for future prospects. At present, Jhunjhunwala & family hold about 40% stakes.
And then, soon after, shit started hitting the fan as the company pilots started jumping ships. Around 43 pilots of Akasa Air left their jobs to join rival companies like Air India Express and SpiceJet, as per executives, and they did this without due diligence. Airline companies have a mandatory notice period of six months for pilots, which the runaway pilots decided not to follow.
One may think that for a popular airline company like Akasa, 43 may not be a big number. But this number makes all the difference as Akasa flies to only 16 destinations in the country and has a fleet of 20 or so aircraft. Thus, many flights are being rescheduled or cancelled, causing an uproar in the aviation industry.
Why are the Pilots Leaving Akasa?
The aviation sector in India has been facing issues for a while, but the addition of unhappy employees, especially pilots of Akasa, was unexpected. I say this because Akasa Air has been airing its "employee first" approach to the best of their abilities. Employees have various benefits, which made Akasa a desired employment in the aviation industry. Apparently, things were not as goody-goody as they seem.
As stated by CEO Vinay Dube, the company's pilots are leaving in hordes due to dissatisfaction with the work culture at Akasa. Apart from this, Akasa is in a hurry to expand its business, in which starting international flights was the first step. This might be causing stress on the number of hours employees need to pull and may also affect their financial growth in the company.
Also, competitors like Air India and Air India Express have plans to expand their operations with speed. Thus, they provide compelling career opportunities with room for further growth for the employees, enticing experienced pilots to abandon Akasa. Pilots are desperate for a good working environment and opportunity after sitting idle at home during the pandemic.
Petition Against Former Pilots
Akasa Air filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court against all 43 pilots who left their positions without prior notice. This petition was backed by Akasa Airlines counsel's statement of how the abandonment may lead to shutting down the airline. Apparently, Akasa had to cancel 24 flights a day in September alone due to a shortage of pilots.
This would amount to 600 to 700 cancelled flights for September if more resignations keep landing on the airline. Akasa Air has also filed a complaint against the pilots in Bombay High Court, demanding $2.5 million for operational and reputational damage. The respondent for the case is the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
|Meanwhile, read here to learn about RVNL, the company supporting the rail industry in India.|
The Bottom Line
India was able to restore its position as the third-largest aviation market in the world in June 2023. After the sudden downfall of the industry due to the Covid pandemic, passenger traffic rebounded sharply. But, the many hiccups causing turbulence in the aviation industry are surfacing with each passing day. Akasa Air’s trouble is a great example.
Akasa has received the nod to operate international flights by December on 20th September. But the question arises: how exactly will Akasa handle this expansion when it is sweating bullets to operate well at home?
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