A new airline is set to take to the skies. An old carrier is on track to make a comeback. And the existing ones are grappling with employee issues to mid-air malfunctions.
That pretty much sums up the story of India’s aviation sector at the moment.
Billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed Akasa Air has secured the sector regulator’s approval on July 7 and is set to launch its operation by the end of this month, according to CAPA. The airline is expecting a fleet size of 18 by the end of March 2023 and will add 12-14 planes every year thereafter, CAPA said.
Jet Airways (India) Ltd., too, is getting ready for a relaunch with a brand-new promoter.
But not all are cheering amid the expansion buzz.
On July 2, many employees of Interglobe Aviation Ltd., the operator of India’s largest airline IndiGo, took mass leave on the issue of employee remuneration.
That caused the airline’s on-time performance to take a beating for a day. Nearly 55% of its flights got delayed on that day. The airline said it is in process of addressing some of the issues related to employee remuneration and asserted that its flight operations continue to be normal.
Certain media reports pointed to walk-in interviews by Air India on that day in New Delhi. But BQ Prime was able to confirm from Tata Group executives that there were no walk-in interviews on that day in the city.
IndiGo’s cabin crew and pilots are displeased with continuing pay cuts introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic. Even after a partial rollback, their current compensation is less than what it was pre-pandemic days.
The airline, with a market share of nearly 60%, is also facing human resource management challenges. The airline’s technicians have complained, as reported by the Mint, that the company was not following standard maintenance procedure, putting passengers’ safety at risk.
An emailed query to IndiGo spokesperson remained unanswered.
IndiGo’s rival Air India, now part of the Tata group, has its own sets of issues to contend with.
According to aviation industry experts, winning back the airlines was the easy part, but the complete image makeover is going to be a major uphill task for Tata Sons. Air India’s market share, according to data published by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, has been constantly declining since July 2021.
An email to Air India spokesperson remained unanswered.
Separately, SpiceJet, having a market share close to 10%, has been battling multiple technical glitches lately, forcing the regulator DGCA to issue a show-cause notice earlier this month. The airline’s mounting losses have been a key overhang for a long time.