Monday, February 14, 2022

Here’s why Rahul Bhatia has taken over IndiGo’s cockpit

On February 4, IndiGo, India’s largest domestic airline, with a market share of 53.5 per cent, announced a profit of Rs 129.80 crore for the quarter ending December 31, 2021, after seven successive quarters of losses. A short time later came the announcement that Rahul Bhatia,  one of the two co-promoters of the airline, was taking over as Managing Director with immediate effect, for five years.

The announcement comes just over a month and a half after shareholders of Indigo’s parent InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. approved a resolution to remove a contentious clause restricting transfer of shares by the promoters.

While unusual for a promoter, this is not the first time Bhatia has stepped in to take on a managerial position in the airline. He had also taken on the mantle of Chief Executive Officer when IndiGo’s second CEO Aditya Ghosh quit in July 2018. Bhatia’s tenure had lasted a few months then, with Gregory Taylor subsequently appointed as interim CEO.

This time, however, the appointment is for five years. So, it is clear he intends to be involved fully in handling IndiGo’s day-to-day operations.

“Now there is no ambiguity that Bhatia will be steering the airline because as MD he will have more powers than the CEO. However, the CEO is not going anywhere,” a person involved with the airline since its inception said.

The CEO himself appears to have welcomed the move by making the right noises. “We are now entering a new phase in our journey, with more international and long-haul flights. In this evolving and exciting environment, strengthening the thought leadership in the company is a timely and welcome move,” Ronojoy Dutta said in a bland statement. Dutta is also a Wholetime Director at IndiGo.

14/02/22 Ashwini Phadnis/Moneycontrol

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