The civil aviation regulator has ruled out intervening in the issue of pilot resignations in Akasa Air, saying the data submitted by the airline did not reflect large cancellation of flights and that it did not have any authority in employer-employee disputes.
Instead, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told the Delhi High Court that Akasa Air should maintain a limited schedule if it does not have enough pilots to operate its planned flights.
Akasa Air had dragged DGCA to the court, saying the regulator was not acting against 43 pilots who quit the airline without completing a notice period of six months.
The airline in its petition said the sudden resignations forced it to cancel over 632 flights in August and an equal number in September.
It said DGCA was “unwilling to take any action” which resulted in “significant financial and operational hardship” and caused chaos for the public.
DGCA refused to intervene, saying that the Delhi High Court, in a separate case, has asked it not to act against any pilot unless it decides on that case, and asked the court to dismiss Akasa’s petition.
The regulator had in 2017 set a rule making it mandatory for commanders to serve a notice period of one year and first officers a notice period of six months before leaving an airline. Multiple pilots’ unions have challenged it and the matter is currently sub judice in Delhi High Court.
Federation of Indian Pilots, which had filed a case to challenge the 2017 rule, also said the court should not pass an order on Akasa Air’s case demanding action against pilots who have quit unless it decides on the previous case.
DGCA argued that going by the data submitted by the airline, Akasa cancelled only 1.17% of its flights in August. The airline operates around 4,000 flights per month and hence a 1.4% mean it had to cancel only 56 flights.
“The DGCA categorically denies that the airline gave any documentation in respect to cancellation of flights due to shortage of pilots,” the regulator told the court.
“Violation of terms of agreement of employment is a case between them and the airline and is outside the purview of the DGCA. The DGCA has no role to play in the same,” it said.