India's DGCA Wash Hands Of The Akasa Air Legal Dispute With Pilots

In a new development of Akasa Air pilots who quit their jobs without prior notice,  the legal filing shows that Indian aviation authorities have declined to intervene in the ongoing dispute between Akasa Air and its pilots, despite accusations of inaction by the budget carrier. 


In recent weeks, over 40 of Akasa's 450 pilots have quit without serving their notice, leading the airline to sue some of them and challenge Indian authorities in court for not dealing with alleged pilot misconduct. Additionally, the airline has warned of a potential shutdown due to the crisis. While India mandates a notice period of 6-12 months for pilots, some pilot organizations are challenging this in court. 


Akasa contends that its contractual obligations with pilots remain in force and is suing the regulator for not intervening in the public interest. However, in a legal filing made on September 22nd at the Delhi High Court, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the aviation ministry have said that Akasa's request should be rejected as the regulator does not have the power or authority to interfere in any employment contract. 


Akasa has accused the DGCA of being "unwilling to take any action" that would lead to "significant financial and operational hardship" for the airline but has not yet responded to the DGCA's new filing. The pilot resignations caused 632 flight cancellations in August, according to Akasa, which is an estimated 18% of the roughly 3,500 flights the airline usually operates in a month. However, the DGCA has contested this position, stating that only 1.17% of Akasa's flights were canceled in August and that the airline did not provide any documents or reasons for cancellation as a result of pilot exits. The 6,000-member Federation of Indian Pilots has also responded to Akasa's plea, saying flight cancellation numbers were "unsubstantiated" and that the DGCA cannot intervene in the dispute. They have also suggested that the alleged mass resignation of pilots "also serves as an indication of employee discontent."

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