Low-cost carrier Akasa Air’s CEO Vinay Dube said he is completely against the idea of having no-poaching agreements among airlines in the wake of the recent pilot crisis at the airline.
The airline chief told news agency PTI that he is “dead set against” the idea of having any such agreement between airlines, asserting that it would not be right.
Until recently, the airline had been facing a pilot crisis after 40-odd pilots unexpectedly resigned and left without serving their notice periods. Dube, however, indicated that the airline is slowly recovering from the turbulence it faced earlier this year. He told the news agency that the airline has expanded its pilot roster from around 330 in April to over 450 today.
“We had about 330 pilots in April. Approximately, 40 went away without (serving) notice period or with one day, two days or less than 24 hours. Today, we have little over 450 pilotsâ€æ between April and today, we have probably added about a third of additional pilots despite a small number leaving,” Dube told PTI.
‘Pilot issues behind us’
Vinay Dube acknowledged that the abrupt exits in which some pilots left without notice were unprecedented, resulting in flight cancellations and a dent in the carrier’s market share. Legal actions have been initiated against the pilots involved.
However, Dube believes that there is no need for industry-wide measures to prevent such incidents in the future.
“We have obtained judicial clarity, so I don’t believe any further actions are necessary. The issue is behind us, and we are now focused on growth,” Dube said, adding that Akasa Air plans to expand its network by 10 per cent in December and over 33 per cent by March.
“We have the clarity now and it says that pilots need to respect the contractual notice period,” Dube noted.
‘Dead set against no-poaching pact’
When asked about the possibility of a no-poaching agreement among airlines for pilots, Dube firmly opposed the idea, emphasising that pilots, like any other employees, should have the freedom to work for any airline of their choice.
“Not at all. Absolutely not. I am dead set against it. I think pilots like any other employees should be completely allowed to work with whatever airline they want and I don’t believe that the airlines should collude on this topic at all. I don’t think there is a need and I don’t think it is right,” he said.
Akasa Air currently operates approximately 700 weekly flights and aims to have a fleet of 25 planes by the end of the fiscal year.
Dube also praised the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for its efficient support throughout the airline’s journey, despite some initial challenges.
“From the very beginning, we got our AOC (Air Operator Certificate) and the airline started in less than 24 months. That is as efficient as it gets from the regulatory perspective. It is just that the judicial order that was passed lacked a bit of clarity from their perspective which were able to get subsequently. I would not say they were not helpful because they were incredibly helpful and efficient.”