Bombay High Court has given Akasa Air (QP, Mumbai International) the green light to seek damages from six pilots who allegedly breached their employment contracts when they exited the airline. The court approved the carrier's application on September 27.

The pilots (first officers) left the airline without serving a mandatory six-month notice period. They were among many who have reportedly departed Akasa in recent months, leaving the airline severely short of flight crews and resulting in significant flight cancellations and reliability issues. Consequently, across July and August, Akasa paid customers INR10 million rupees (USD121,000) in compensation.

Akasa is seeking INR210 million (USD2.53 million) from the six pilots for damages to the airline’s reputation, plus a further INR180,000 (USD2,170) for breaking their employment contracts, according to India's Economic Times. Earlier this month, ch-aviation reported that Akasa intended to take legal action against 43 pilots who allegedly breached their employment contracts when they left the airline.

These pilots, who now work for other airlines, had attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed, with their legal representatives arguing that because the contracts were not signed and performed in Mumbai, that city's High Court was not the appropriate forum to hear the dispute. They argued that the contracts granted exclusive jurisdiction to the Mumbai courts, with the presiding judge agreeing.

Akasa Airlines says it has around 450 pilots on its payroll with another 60 due to join after serving out their mandatory notice periods elsewhere. Last week, the company secured authorisation to fly abroad and CEO Vinay Dube said that, pilot issues aside, he planned to announce a "three-digit aircraft order" by the end of the year.

Separately, proceedings at Delhi High Court on September 28, brought by Akasa Air against India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCGA), could have worked out better for the carrier. It had wanted the court to issue a direction to the DGCA and Ministry of Civil Aviation to take action against the pilots. However, the court declined to do so, saying it did not have the jurisdiction.