Exclusive: IndiGo’s Rahul Bhatia says won’t take hurried decision on CEO, denies rift with co-founder

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Exclusive: IndiGo’s Rahul Bhatia says won’t take hurried decision on CEO, denies rift with co-founder

India’s largest airline IndiGo is in need of a full-time CEO but its founder Rahul Bhatia says the carrier is not going to rush through the decision.

“We want to make a considered decision,” Bhatia told Moneycontrol in an interaction.

He also denied reports that he and co-founder Rakesh Gangwal were not agreeing on the choice of the new candidate. “How can we have [differences] when we haven’t appointed a CEO?,” he said.

Reports had emerged that Ronojoy Dutta, who had joined the airline as Principal Consultant earlier this month, was tipped to be the airline’s next Chief Executive Officer. The position has been vacant since the exit of then President Aditya Ghosh early this year.

Since Ghosh’s exit, Bhatia has taken over the role of interim CEO.

There has also been speculation on the exit of Greg Taylor, a senior advisor who was earlier expected to take over the chief executive role.

Bhatia declined to comment on both, except to say that Taylor was not brought in for a specific role and a period. “We always knew it’s not going to be for a very long time. He is very good at what he does, exceedingly good in his specialised area. But we need someone who has a broader understanding of the industry.”

Greg Taylor had come back to IndiGo after an earlier year-long stint till 2017, when he was Executive Vice President of Revenue Management and Network Planning.

Bhatia added that Dutta has been a “long-time friend of both me and Rakesh (Rakesh Gangwal is the co-founder of IndiGo). We are good friends and have known him professionally and personally.”

“For the moment he is putting together a plan and he is very good at putting things together and putting a strategy together. I will rely on him and then we will see how the future is going.”

Bhatia declined to put a timeline on when the next CEO will be announced.

Dutta, a veteran of the American airline industry, has been tasked to frame a five-year business plan for IndiGo at a time when India’s largest airline is furiously adding capacity.

Preparing for future

Bhatia said that the airline is organising itself to make the most of the opportunities in the domestic and international markets.

“We are going through so much change. We are organising ourselves and new capacity is coming in,” he said, and added that the airline will start inducting A321 Neo aircraft from “next week.”

The aircraft is more fuel efficient and has a higher capacity. The plane will add to IndiGo’s international plans.

“There are great possibilities nationally and internationally. Domestically too, we are now flying to destinations we never thought we would earlier,” he said.

Bhatia added that the airline is on a recruitment mode and is creating a bench strength. “We are preparing for a bigger future,” he said.

Over the years, IndiGo has grown rapidly while also being one of the few airlines to consistently make a profit. Last quarter, it posted a loss for the first time ever.

The strengthening of the rupee and correction in crude rate will “improve the situation,” said the entrepreneur.

The two factors had led to the airline announcing its first quarterly loss since the time of its listing.

Images are for reference only.Images gathered automatic from google.All rights on the images are with their original owners.

2018-12-14 11:39:04

Images are for reference only.Images gathered automatic from google.All rights on the images are with their original owners.

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