Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Can Sanjay Kumar steer AirAsia to right direction?

Sanjay Kumar, an aviation industry veteran who played key roles in shaping the operations of India’s two top low fare carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet from ground up, will now join AirAsia India as chief operating officer.
Kumar, who resigned from IndiGo in July, will take up his new assignment on December 3, the airline said in a statement. AirAsia India is 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons and Malaysian LCC AirAsia Berhad. Kumar will be responsible for overseeing the operations as well as the commercial functions at the airline.
This comes even as Tata Sons steps up its plan of forming a large aviation entity with its other partner Singapore Airlines (their JV is the full service airline Vistara); moves forward, although cautiously, in its plans to acquire an ownership stake in India’s second larger airline Jet Airways and weans away from its partnership with AirAsia Berhad.

Kumar’s meetings were primarily with executives at Tata Sons, said people in the know. There was just one video conference with Tony Fernandes, the AirAsia Berhad group CEO, who had practically been running the Indian airline until recently. Fernandes and his colleagues have been named in an FIR by the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly bribing government officials to change rules for flying abroad.

Kumar’s stint at AirAsia wont be bereft of challenges. The airline has seen frequent changes at the top level since its inception and as well as clashes between the management and shareholders, especially AirAsia Berhad. Earlier this year the Tata Group sought to stabilise the airline by appointing Sunil Bhaskaran, previously at Tata Steel, as the CEO in October after the airline flew headless for months. Before that, it named Tata Power veteran Deepak Mahendra as chief financial officer.
21/11/18 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times