The legal tussle involving India’s youngest airline Akasa Air seems to be dragging on longer than expected.
Akasa Air has alleged that 43 pilots who walked away without serving their mandatory notice period have caused disruption in the airline’s flight scheduling. As a result, the airline has had to cancel nearly 600 flights per month since June.
In the latest development, the Indian aviation regulator DGCA has told the High Court that Akasa Air has not supplied proof that its series of flight cancellations are due to the abrupt resignations of the 43 pilots.
High Court action
The airline has filed an action with the High Court, seeking compensation from the pilots for the losses it has sustained.
Akasa has also dragged the Indian Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)) and the Civil Aviation ministry in, alleging that these agencies failed to take any action against the pilots.
Soon after this, the airline issued a statement saying that the plea filed by it in the court was not against either DGCA or the Civil Aviation Ministry; rather it was to seek urgent intervention and clarification from the regulator on the interim order issued in 2018, regarding the mandatory notice period for pilots.
“A small set of pilots abandoned their duties and left the organisation without serving their mandatory contractual notice period, therefore forcing a disruption of flights between July and September 2023,” a spokesman for the airline said.
“This necessitated last-minute cancellations that stranded customers and caused inconvenience to the travelling public, In the interest of passenger convenience, and an attempt to stop this unethical and illegal practice by these set of pilots, Akasa Air has sought relief from the Delhi High Court.”
“We want to clarify that it is not a matter against the DGCA or the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) but a plea to the courts to urgently interpret and clarify the interim order issued by the very same court on the very same matter in 2018, relating to mandatory notice period requirements by the pilots” the spokesperson added.
No proof of cancellations due pilots says DGCA
Soon after this the DGCA gave its reply to the airline’s clarification at the court, the regulator informed that it “cannot interfere in the employment agreement between airline and the pilot which itself contains the mechanism of termination of pilots”.
Speaking on the issue of cancellations of flights by the airline due to pilots abruptly resigning, the DGCA categorically denied that Akasa Air has provided any documents or proof that the flight cancellations were caused by the departures of the pilots.
This is in contradiction to the statement given by Akasa in the High Court – the airline also informed the court that it had to cancel 24 flights per day and it operates around 120 flights a day, meaning the airline is cancelling 20% of its flights every month.
“The data/records are maintained by Respondent no. 1 (DGCA) for cancellation of flights along with the cited reasons which are primarily due to operational, commercial, technical or on account of weather, but no such information regarding the cancelled flights was communicated to Respondent no. 1 as averred by the petitioner,” DGCA said.
Akasa seems to be in deep trouble as the festive season is approaching in the country and every airline is gearing up for the high demand. At the same time frequent cancellations by the airline are making it an unreliable proposition for many.
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