Monday, May 14, 2018

Aditya Ghosh's high-flying career

A lawyer by profession, Aditya Ghosh took over the reins of IndiGo in August 2008, replacing aviation veteran Bruce Ashby. He was the first outsider with a non-aviation background to lead an Indian airline. Other outsiders that followed him were Mittu Chandilya and Amar Abrol,  consecutive CEOs of AirAsia India between May 2013 and May 2018.
Under Ghosh’s stewardship, IndiGo’s fleet grew from 18 aircraft to over 160, operating more than a thousand daily flights. Under him, the airline’s revenue increased eight-fold, and it became the only Indian airline to report profits for nine consecutive years. But there were certain market dynamics that favoured IndiGo: No new airline grew big enough to challenge IndiGo.

Ghosh provided IndiGo with stability and continuity in terms of leadership, while rivals like Jet Airways had seven CEOs in the last five years. That said, all of IndiGo’s success cannot be attributed to one man. Behind the scenes were promoters Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal, who were proactive on all critical matters such as aircraft purchase and leases.

Ghosh stayed true to the low-cost model by focusing on increasing frequency in key routes rather than chasing new routes. For example, IndiGo operates around 34 direct flights between Mumbai and New Delhi per day. Between New Delhi and Bengaluru it operates 33 flights per day and it has 24 flights between Bengaluru and Mumbai.

While IndiGo has dominated domestic skies, it has just a 5 percent share of international traffic. Ten years at the helm was good enough for Ghosh to chart a bigger international flight path. But, again, many would say that an international strategy, would have needed the promoters’ approval.
14/05/18 Anshul Dhamija/Forbes India