The Indian low-cost airline Akasa Air is taking a total of 43 pilots to court who left the carrier in violation of the contractually agreed notice period. The pilots are accused of simply no longer showing up for duty in order to take on a job with a competitor.
According to the carrier's statement, the pilot contracts should be designed in such a way that there is a six-month notice period. Even in the event of self-termination, the services must be provided until the last day unless an exemption is given. However, 43 pilots are said to have ignored this and left “just like that” to start working for another airline.
Almost three million US dollars sued
This had an impact on flight operations as, according to Indian media reports, Akasa Air had to cancel some flights for this reason. The Economic Times writes that the airline is seeking damages amounting to the equivalent of almost three million US dollars in court. Furthermore, the carrier's reputation suffered due to the cancellations, which are said to have occurred due to the pilot shortage.
The cases are being heard in a Bombay court. Akasa Air has now submitted an extremely extensive written statement including attachments. Among other things, the aim is to prove that the 43 affected pilots were repeatedly asked to report to duty. It is also suggested that these have long been flying with a competitor. This would not have been permissible during the notice period, so that from the carrier's perspective they would have been liable for damages.
Airline calls pilots “selfish”
Upon request, Akasa Air confirmed that it had taken “a small group of pilots” to court. Among other things, the statement states that they “disregarded the contractually agreed notice period”. The company believes that they “violated not only their employment contract but also India’s civil aviation regulations.” The behavior is also described as “unethical, illegal and selfish” because there were cancellations “at the last minute” because the affected aircraft pilots “simply didn’t show up for duty”.
There is no public statement from the 43 pilots, so their perspective cannot be presented in this article. Ultimately, however, they will have to present their reasons in court. It therefore remains to be seen whether the relevant court in Bombay will decide in favor of the airline or the pilot.