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Air Deccan, Kingfisher in no-poach pact

The king of low fares and a potential rival agree not to poach from each other



1 April, 2005: Was there an incipient battle between established no-budget airline Air Deccan and upcoming private airline Kingfisher? Did Air Deccan move the court accusing Kingfisher of poaching its staff? We do not know not for sure. What we know for sure is that the two have signed an agreement on March 30, 2005, pledging not to poach on each other's staff.

The Economic Times on March 29, 2005 carried a front-page lead story on private airlines poaching on each other and on public sector airlines for pilots, flight engineers, technicians and ground staff. The ET report said that Air Deccan had moved court "to thwart an apprehended mass exodus by its technicians." 

The report, which was too "thin" for a lead story, had no specifics on what case was filed, when it was filed or in which court it was filed. The report quoted neither Air Deccan nor Kingfisher to substantiate the story. There were no details on the "suit."

It also said that Air Sahara is attempting to stave off a similar poaching plan from rival Royal Airways. Royal Airways is ready to launch its low-cost airline SpiceJet this year.

However, the same day the report appeared, Air Deccan and Kingfisher signed a no-poach agreement to keep off each other's human resources. The next day, ET, along with other newspapers, reported the story. However, there was of mention of legal action made by Air Deccan. A smiling Captain GR Gopinath, MD of Air Deccan said that for the no-poach agreement to be successful, the two airlines have to stick to it. Thanks for the info, Captain!

Air Deccan has offered its Airbus for training Kingfisher pilots. Air Deccan will also share inventory and routes with Kingfisher. Apparently, the truce was called after a meeting between Gopinath and Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya on March 29.

However, with the domestic aviation sector booming and talented manpower in short supply, one wonders how upstart carriers in a hurry to take off will find the required staff. Answers, anyone?



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