After completing one year of operations and getting 20 aircraft in its fleet, Akasa Air, has obtained approval from the Union Civil Aviation Ministry to commence international flights. The airline, currently grappling with pilot crisis and operational scare, is now eyeing destinations in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East for its international foray by the end of this year.
Akasa Air’s CEO Vinay Dube in a statement, revealed that the Aviation Ministry has designated the airline as an international scheduled operator. He stated, “This new designation will allow us to fly internationally, enabling us to take one step closer to our dream of launching international operations before the end of this year. We are now working with all relevant authorities on our request for traffic rights and will soon be able to announce the international destination we will fly to.”
Akasa Air is setting its sights on destinations within the range of a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from India, targeting regions in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Dube also indicated that the airline is on course to announce an order for a three-digit number of aircraft by the end of this year to meet the growing demand for air travel.
To ensure the reliability of its operations, Akasa Air has made the strategic decision to fly fewer routes domestically and temporarily sacrifice market share due to ongoing pilot shortage issues. This situation arose after a group of pilots left the airline without serving their mandatory contractual notice period, causing disruptions and last-minute flight cancellations.
According to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Akasa’s market share declined from 5.2 per cent in July to 4.2 per cent in August 2023. The airline cancelled 600 flights in August, with the possibility of up to 700 more cancellations in September if pilot resignations persist.Akasa Air has initiated legal action against the pilots who left the airline without fulfilling their mandatory notice period. The airline has also approached the Delhi High Court, seeking DGCA’s intervention to take action against these pilots.
The airline in the court has described its current situation as a “state of crisis” due to the resignations and warned that further departures could even lead to a shutdown. It is also seeking significant compensation from the departing pilots for revenue losses incurred due to flight cancellations.