Akasa Air grounded a Boeing B737-800 MAX aircraft on Tuesday, September 20 after a leakage in an engine fuel pump, aviation industry sources said. The airline cancelled a couple of flights in the last two days due to the grounded plane, which has registration code VT-YAC.
The new carrier has four planes in its fleet and is currently operating with three planes. It is looking to source spare parts to repair the engine fuel pump of VT-YAC. An official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) confirmed the grounding of VT-YAC due to an “unserviceable engine fuel pump”.
Akasa Air has earlier said that its fleet size will go up to 18 aircraft — all B737 MAX — by March 2023. By March 2027, the airline plans to have 72 B737 MAX aircraft in its fleet. Akasa Air also expects to operate more than 150 weekly flights by the end of September.
Akasa Air, which operated its first commercial flight on August 7, filled 52.9% of seats up to August 31. The DGCA data showed that Akasa Air carried 24,000 passengers on its flights in August, which gave it a 0.2% market share. IndiGo is the market leader as it flew 5.83 million passengers domestically, recording a market share of 57.7%.
The airline operates flights between five cities across the country. From October 7, it plans to start operating flights on Delhi-Bengaluru and Delhi-Ahmedabad routes.
Akasa Air is also leading on pay hikes for pilots, marking a reversal of the pandemic-era aviation squeeze that saw salary cuts and job losses globally. This is likely to set off salary increases at other carriers to ensure they have enough pilots as air traffic recovers amid fleet expansion and Gulf carriers embarking on a hiring spree.
Akasa raised pilot pay by an average of 60% — captains will start at INR 4.5 lakh a month and first officers at INR 1.8 lakh — from October. This is against INR 2.79 lakh and INR 1.11 lakh, respectively, at present.
Depending on experience and hours flown, the pay could be higher. At the maximum limit of 70 hours per month, a captain can earn INR 8 lakh, about 28% more than INR 6.25 lakh now, said the people cited above.
(With Inputs from Business Standard)