Chief executives of Air India, Akasa joust over poaching of pilots

The exchange, detailed in a Sept. 21 letter seen by Reuters, spotlights growing competition in India’s aviation market, as a strong rebound in air travel after the pandemic, coupled with a flurry of orders for new aircraft, lead to a shortage of pilots.

It followed a telephone call between them and a missive Dube had sent expressing his concerns to the Tata Group. Wilson told his counterpart the government rules were “not currently enforceable”, adding that Akasa itself had “previously engaged in the same actions” by poaching pilots from Tata Group’s budget carrier, Air India Express, and other airlines.

Akasa did not comment on its communication with Air India, but said the issue of pilot exits was “now behind us … we are squarely back in growth mode”.The dispute comes at the time of a hiring spree by Air India, with its arm, Air India Express, seeking to more than triple its fleet to 170 over five years.

“I regret that you interpreted my courtesy of taking your call and listening to your request as assent,” he added.