In what can be termed as an unusual approach, the new Indian airline Akasa may offer company shares to a larger pool of top employees rather than a selected group of C-suite executives. Industry experts see Akasa’s approach of employee stock options as a strategy to retain the talent pool for an extended period of time. Airlines witness a regular shedding of resources, especially after the pandemic. Many pilots were seen taking early retirements or switching careers.
Akasa, backed by the billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, is currently on a spree of hiring employees. It has already hired around 50 employees for back-office functions and is now recruiting pilots, flight attendants and airport staff. Akasa is preparing to be operational by May 2022.
According to Akasa’s Chief Executive Officer Vinay Dube, the company understands the plight of employees through the pandemic and the bankruptcies that have taken place in the Indian aviation sector. Hence, he intends to create homes for employees in Akasa where they are happy. He has not revealed the strata of employees who will receive the shares.
“We want to have an organization that’s very tight-knit in values but diverse in experiences, genders, locations within India,” he added.
Akasa has a strong founding team behind it, which is likely to help the airline crack an otherwise challenging market. Operated by SNV Aviation Private Limited, Akasa is also backed by Aditya Ghosh, who spearheaded IndiGo for nearly a decade. Vinay Dube himself is a former Delta Air Lines Inc. veteran who also ran Jet Airways until 2019. He also headed Wadia Group’s no-frills carrier Go Airlines India Ltd.
Akasa Intends to Deploy an Employee-Focused Strategy
According to Dube, good customer service alone will not save the aviation sector, which was hit badly due to the pandemic. Treating employees as a priority is a well-known strategy in most industries except the aviation sector, mainly when carriers focus on reducing the ticket fare or offering benefits to passengers. “If we don’t treat our employees well, if we don’t take care of them, then it’s tough for them to take care of customers, which we want them to do,” he said. Akasa seemed to have had an overflow of job applications. Its website shows that the intake of applications are paused after an ‘unprecedented number’ of inquiries were received.