India’s largest airline IndiGo has named former United Airlines president Ronojoy Dutta as its chief executive officer for a period of five years.
IndiGo’s announcement comes ahead of the carrier taking off for its major international expansion plans. Last month, the airline had appointed Dutta as a principal consultant.
The budget carrier has been without a full-time CEO since Aditya Ghosh departed from the company in July last year with the airline’s co-founder Rahul Bhatia taking over as the interim chief. Additionally, the IndiGo also appointed former chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India M Damodaran as the chairman of its board.
Next phase of growth from global expansion
Aviation industry executives had been of the view that Aditya Ghosh’s full-time replacement would be decided keeping in mind IndiGo’s international expansion plans. In a post-earnings call on Wednesday, Rahul Bhatia had stated that the next phase of the company’s growth would come from international expansion. Ronojoy Dutta’s experience working with one of the largest airlines in the world and also with a domestic Indian carrier could have played a role in his appointment as IndiGo’s chief.
Dutta was president of United Airlines, where he worked for nearly twenty years, holding various senior leadership positions including senior vice president (VP) planning, senior VP maintenance, VP finance and VP information technology. Dutta also served as the president of the Air Sahara for two years. He was also an advisor to the restructuring of both Air Canada and US Airways.
Prior to Dutta, who came on board as a principal consultant in December, another former United Airlines executive Greg Taylor was in line to be the CEO. In a mail to IndiGo staffers back in April announcing Ghosh’s resignation, Bhatia had noted that the airline would consider the appointment of Taylor as president and CEO of the company. However, Taylor, who was then appointed as a senior adviser, left the company in December paving the way for Dutta to take over as full-time CEO.
“We have a huge advantage in going international in that we are going there on single-aisle planes…In those (international) markets where we are going to fly with our single-aisle low-cost strategy, we will have huge profit margins. So, we are very excited about our growth opportunities internationally,” he had said. The airline is expected to launch its flights to Istanbul in Turkey in the next two months.
InterGlobe Aviation, parent of IndiGo, Wednesday reported a 75 per cent fall in net profit at Rs 190.9 crore for the December quarter as high fuel prices and currency depreciation adversely impacted the bottomline. The airline had a profit after tax of Rs 762 crore in the corresponding period of 2017-18. “Profitability was adversely impacted by high fuel prices and currency depreciation,” the airline said in a presentation to analysts and institutional investors.