Amid numbers of laying off news, an Indian low-cost airline Akasa Air announced to hire nearly 1,000 people by the end of March 2024. It planned to take the total staff strength to more than 3,000 by the said time period. The airline continues to expand its fleet as well as routes, according to its chief Vinay Dube.
The airline, which took to the skies a little over seven months ago, also plans to start international operations by the end of this year, and the possible overseas destinations are still in the process of being finalised.
In an interview with PTI, Dube, the founder and CEO of Akasa Air, said the airline will place a "three-digit aircraft order" by the end of this year.
It has placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, and 19 of them are already in its fleet. The 20th aircraft will be inducted in April, following which it will also be eligible to fly overseas.
In the next financial year, the carrier aims to add another 9 planes to its fleet, taking the total size to 28. Currently, it operates 110 flights every day.
"We have more than 2,000 employees today, and by the end of the next fiscal, we will be probably around 3,000 plus employees...(out of them, there are) around 1,100 pilots and flight attendants," Dube said in the interview earlier this week in the national capital.
According to him, hiring is always done in advance.
"We may not have the aircraft today, but we will have to hire for the aircraft that will be there three months down the road. People have to come, and they have to be trained. So, you always hire in advance for the number of aircraft you have deliveries for," he noted.
On whether hiring people is a challenge post the coronavirus pandemic, Dube said the airline is fortunate to be able to attract good talent. "We just need to continue to be employee-focused. I think we will continue to be able to attract good talent." The delivery of all 72 Boeing aircraft on order is expected to be completed by early 2027.
Without elaborating on the expected "three-digit aircraft order", Dube said, "we have to wait and see".
"We are already flying 110 flights a day and we will be 150 flights per day by the end of the summer season. It will be continued growth but not growth for the sake of growth. "We have no market share targets, not chasing any position in aviation, and we have got a target to make customers happy, target to make our employees happy. That is what we are doing and we can do that, that is sustainable if we have got a very strong cost structure. So, those are the three pillars we are focusing on," he said.
About planned international operations, Dube said there is nothing to share for now as the airline is yet to decide on the possible destinations.
"We are working with the ministry on the routes and traffic rights that are available...we may want to fly to X cities, and there may be traffic rights available for that country, but in that particular airport, you may not have slots. All these permutations and combinations are being worked on right now.
"Therefore, I can't even tell you whether it is going to be east or west, and I can't even narrow it down because we are looking at both," he said.
Akasa Air, which describes itself as the country's newest and most dependable airline, started operations on August 7, 2022.
"I am extremely happy," Dube said about the achievement of the airline, which currently operates 110 daily flights to 17 domestic destinations.
In February, Akasa Air flew 3.61 lakh passengers, and its domestic market share stood at 3 per cent, while On-Time Performance (OTP) was 87 per cent, as per the latest official data.
(With PTI input)
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