Akasa sues 43 pilots for joining other airlines without serving a notice period
Akasa Airline has decided to take legal action against 43 pilots who joined other airline/s without serving the notice period. The 13-month-old airline has reportedly sought about ₹22 crore as compensation from the 43 pilots for the loss of revenue and damaging reputation of the airline.
According to a report by the Times of India, the mass exodus of pilots has forced the airline to cancel its several operations since August 2023.
"We have sought legal remedy only against a small set of pilots who abandoned their duties and left without serving their mandatory contractual notice period," an Akasa Air spokesperson said.
The airline said the act was not only in violation of their contract but also the country's civil aviation regulations.
"Not only is this illegal in law but also an unethical and selfish act that disrupted flights in August forcing last-minute cancellations that stranded thousands of customers causing significant inconvenience to the travelling public," it said.
Akasa Air, which currently has a fleet of 20 planes, started operations in August 2022.
This year in June, the Mumbai-headquartered airline increased the salaries of pilots by up to 40%. As per a June report, Akasa Air announced that from July 2023, senior first officers will now start with a monthly salary of ₹3.40 lakh, while senior captains will earn ₹6.25 lakh. Earlier it was ₹2.75 lakh and ₹5.75 lakh, respectively.
Also read: Akasa Air increases pilots salary by 40%: Report
If the experience and flight hours are more, the pay scale may be even higher, and the captain may earn up to ₹7.75 lakh per month, a 6% increase from the current ₹7.28 lakh, Akasa said in June this year.
Not only this, for every additional hour, apart from the fixed 40 hours of flying, captains will be paid ₹7,500 and first officers ₹3,045.
Akasa in August added the 20th aircraft to its fleet making the airline eligible to start international operations.
Indian regulations require airlines to have at least 20 aircraft in their fleet to become eligible for international operations.
As of August 2023, Akasa operated more than 900 weekly flights across 16 cities in the country.
Source: Live Mint
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Mumbai airport August air traffic at 108% of pre-pandemic level
New Delhi: Domestic air traffic at the Mumbai International Airport last month stood at 108% of pre-pandemic level of August 2019.
The airport recorded passenger traffic of over 4.32 million, an increase of 32% year-on-year, while international air traffic soared 33% on year to more than 1.1 million passengers.
The airport witnessed a total of 20,711 domestic flights and 6,960 international air traffic movements last month.
Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai emerged as the top domestic destinations in August, while Dubai, London, and Abu Dhabi were the most preferred international destinations from the airport.
In August, the airport witnessed a 150% increase in air passenger traffic for Munich, followed by a 138% growth in air traffic for Hanoi and 110% rise for Istanbul traffic. Nairobi and Ho Chi Minh also witnessed a growth of 99% and 96% in passenger traffic respectively as compared to August 2022.
The average daily passenger count for the month stood at 139,661.
In the domestic sector, IndiGo led with 48% market share, followed by Air India with 18% and Vistara with 17%. In the international segment, IndiGo recorded 22% market share, followed by Air India with 14% and Vistara with 10%.
In the freight category, the airport saw air cargo tonnage growth of 6%, with a 3% rise in domestic cargo tonnage and an 8% rise in international cargo tonnage in August 2023.
Overall, the Indian aviation market has revival in domestic air travel since December 2022 when covid-related restrictions were eased. Domestic air traffic last month for the country stood at 12.4 million passengers, a rise of 5% when compared to pre-pandemic levels of August 2019.
Source: Live Mint
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Why is Akasa Air taking 43 pilots to court
With the aggressive expansion of IndiGo and airlines under the Air India umbrella, industry experts have pointed out that India’s aviation industry faces a scarcity of senior pilots.
According to reports, more than 40 pilots left Akasa Air without serving the mandatory six-month notice period, causing the fledgling airline to cancel a large number of flights. Its flight cancellation rate last month was 1.17%, the second-highest since its launch in August 2022. This number was 0.45% in July and 0% in March. Akasa's share of the domestic market fell to 4.2% in August from 5.2% in July.
Such situations are not unusual in an emerging aviation market like India's. Currently, there are seven major carriers in India, of which Go First has been inactive since May. Industry experts say the Tata-backed Air India and India's largest airline IndiGo have the strongest promoter support of the lot.
This is evident in the order book of the two airline groups, with over 1,300 aircraft on order for IndiGo and 470 aircraft in the pipeline for the Air India group. In addition, the two entities are constantly eyeing opportunities to add capacity by wet-leasing or dry-leasing older aircraft as the supply of new planes has been constrained by global supply-chain issues since the pandemic.
Low-cost carrier SpiceJet, among others, has been under financial stress thanks to multiple legal cases with lessors, its former promoter group, and Credit Suisse over the payment of dues.
An industry executive said, “Akasa is a strong player and has been able to steadily increase its market share in domestic aviation. It will be important for the airline to either expand slowly or ensure a competitive offer to retain pilot talent. Flight cancellations are the biggest dampeners for customer sentiment. They need to be avoided at any cost."
In a claim filed in the Bombay High Court against the 43 pilots, Akasa Air has sought ₹21.6 crore in compensation. This includes ₹14.28 crore for reputational loss caused by the cancellation, re-scheduling and grounding of flights, ₹6.96 crore for loss of operational profits, and ₹36 lakh on account of the pilots' training agreement.
“We have sought legal remedy only against a small set of pilots who abandoned their duties and left without serving their mandatory contractual notice period. This was not only in violation of their contract but also the country's civil aviation regulation. Not only is this illegal in law but also an unethical and selfish act that disrupted flights in August, forcing last-minute cancellations that stranded thousands of customers and caused significant inconvenience to the traveling public," the airline said.
Source: Live Mint
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Zooom Airlines revives air operator certificate
New Delhi: Zooom Airlines, earlier called Zoom Air, has revived air operator certificate from the Indian civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation to commence flight operations in India, the airline said on Friday.
"With our AOC in hand, we look forward to providing passengers with a top-notch travel experience that combines convenience, efficiency, and comfort," Zooom Airlines chief executive officer Atul Gambhir said in a statement.
Zoom Air was established as Zexus Air in April 2013 and the airline had taken delivery of its first aircraft, a Bombardier CRJ200. It had then commenced operations in February 2017. However, the airline was unable to attract substantial air passenger traffic. Its air operator certificate was also suspended in July 2018 for over a year by the DGCA following safety concerns.
With a new name, the airline aims to create a fresh brand recall for the airline with an improved experience for the flyers, industry experts said.
The Gurugram-based company will use its Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft for the flight operations.
“Our Crj 200 aircraft will provide domestic travellers with unprecedented speed on each route. We wish to cater to the growing number of domestic travellers who take frequent flights and expect comfortable travel with reliable speed," Gambhir added.
The airline has plans to target a “cost-effective" and “convenient" solution for regional travel needs of flyers in a growing Indian aviation market. The domestic air traffic in the month of August stood at 12.4 million passengers in India, 5% more than the pre-pandemic level of 11.8 million passengers in Aug 2019.
“We are confident in our ability to carve out a niche by offering a unique and innovative travel experience," Gambhir said.
Currently, the Indian aviation market has two active regional carriers namely Fly Big and Star Air with a share of 0.2% and 0.3% respectively in the domestic civil aviation market.
Source: Live Mint
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WATCH | Private Jet Veers Off Runway on Landing at Mumbai Airport Amid Heavy Rain
A private jet carrying six passengers and two crew members veered off the runway on landing at Mumbai airport amid heavy rain and low visibility on Thursday. In a video that has gone viral on social media, the aircraft can be seen landing but skids off the runway resulting in a crash. No casualties have been reported so far, but three injured persons have been hospitalised.
According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the VSR Ventures Learjet 45 aircraft VT-DBL was operating from Vishakhapatnam to Mumbai and was making an attempt to land on runway number 27 at the Mumbai airport. Visibility was 700 m due to heavy rain, the DGCA added.
The DGCA said the incident took place at the domestic airport at 5.08 pm and was reported by the Mumbai Fire Brigade. Runway operations were put on hold for a short period of time but were resumed soon after. There is, however, reports of a number of flights being delayed.
“On 14.09.2023, M/s VSR Ventures Learjet 45 aircraft VT-DBL operating flight from Vizag to Mumbai with 06 passengers and 02 crew members on board, veered off the runway at Mumbai International Airport. The incident occurred at approximately 17:08 PM today. There are no casualties. The CSMIA's airside team is on ground to assist with the clearance onsite," said a spokesperson from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA).
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Fewer new aircraft lift mid-life plane demand
A global shortage of new aircraft has lifted demand and lease rentals for mid-life planes or those that are five to eight years old.
According to Jared Ailstock, managing partner of AIP Capital, an aviation asset management and investment company, airlines are choosing to pay higher fees to extend leases and keep such aircraft on their fleets, a trend that is consistent worldwide.
“Mid-life aircraft, which would normally have been retired, are staying in fleet longer, so airlines are signing early extensions; you see lease rents go up on those aircraft, you are seeing extensions on those planes to keep them on the fleet," Ailstock said in an interview.
In India, too, airlines that had planned to retire older planes have often extended leases. IndiGo, the country's largest airline, had said in January 2020 prior to the pandemic outbreak that it would start retiring A320ceo aircraft from January 2021, with an aim to return all 126 A320ceos on its 257-aircraft fleet by December 2022. However, the airline has since extended some leases and postponed some redeliveries to ensure supply amid a post-covid surge in air travel demand in India. As of June, the airline had 20 A320ceos in its 316-aircraft fleet.
Ailstock said the shortage of new planes has also prompted recent large aircraft orders, as airlines aim for a more consistent delivery window in the future.
“I think the overall theme in the market today is that there is a shortage of aircraft that is causing airlines to do a few things. Some of this you have seen in IndiGo where they placed one of the largest aircraft orders in history to secure delivery slots over the next seven years or so. We think that sort of theme of lack of supply of aircraft manifests itself in a couple of different ways," he said.
AIP Capital doesn't have any Indian customer, but has held discussions with IndiGo and Akasa Air, among others, and is exploring a business case in terms of partnerships, Ailstock said.
“Broadly, we are looking at operating leases of Boeing 737 MAX and financing in the form of pre-delivery payment facilities to help airlines. We are actively looking at both these aspects and speaking to airlines in the country about it," he said.
AIP Capital, which recently took a 30% stake in Korean consulting and investment firm Dreamstone Aviation Partners, currently has a $1.6 billion portfolio with 30 aircraft, with another 68 Boeing 737 Max models on order.
While the legal developments related to leased planes of bankrupt Go First has instilled a sense of caution among the lessor community and can impact lease rentals in the future for secondary and startup airlines, the overarching sentiment towards India remains positive on the back of “unmatched" demand growth, Ailstock said.
In July, domestic air traffic stood at 12.1 million passengers, 1.6% above the pre-covid level of July 2019.
“If you are leasing aircraft into India—if it is IndiGo, Akasa, Air India or a healthier airline that is well-run—I think the community will get behind those airlines and participate there. But I think in India, we will probably see some caution around second-tier airlines, startup airlines because it has been clear that it is not easy to repossess your asset if there is default on lease rents," he said.
Source: Live Mint
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