Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Kanika Tekriwal On Operating One Of India’s Largest Private Aircraft Fleets

Kanika Tekriwal was raised in a traditional Marwari business family in Bhopal. She grew up learning how to fill out cheques and use a typewriter and sat down for discussions with people who handled finance in her father’s business, as he was keen that she understand it. It was when she went to Coventry University in the UK for higher education that she developed an interest in the aviation sector, pursuing her MBA while simultaneously working with Aerospace Resources. “I learned how things work in an international aviation company; everything I know about aviation, I owe to this place,” says the young CEO and co-founder  of JetSetGo, which operates one of the country’s largest private jet  and helicopter fleets. It was, in fact,  in the UK that the idea for JetSetGo was born. Fascinated with the skies from an early age, Tekriwal spent as much time as she could understanding the field and then wanted to seize the potential for the charter market in India. 

On coming back, she established JetSetGo. Of course, it was an endeavour not without hurdles, but the young cancer survivor was aware of her own mental strength and how she could channelise it to achieve what she put her mind to. She harnessed this strength to overcome the gender bias she faced as well. “I was at the receiving end of prejudices about being a woman and being too young. There were backhanded compliments and comments that implied that I didn’t belong in this ‘boys-only’ aviation club. “Despite these recurring hurdles, I decided that the success of my business would be determined only by my ideas, my competencies to execute them,  and my sense of self-worth,” she says. She gave herself no choice except to march forward. With her success, Tekriwal has tried to change  perceptions for good. “In 2019, we took an oath to be a gender-neutral organisation, and, today, about 30 per cent of our team comprises women, especially in critical leadership roles.”

Loving the skies is one thing, and making a business out of that love quite another! When she started, Tekriwal thought that she would be able to build her business out of her savings, earn revenue, reinvest it and grow steadily. Soon enough, she realised that, without an increment in growth capital, she would not be able to scale up quickly. That’s when the investors came in, and the company was able to build its dedicated fleet of 18 aircraft, based out of Delhi, covering both domestic and international destinations, including the Maldives, Dubai, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia.

Tekriwal and her staff leave no stone unturned to offer clients the opportunity to enjoy the luxury and convenience of flying private, at reasonable prices. So far, she says, the most complex charter they have had to plan is also one of the most fun requests they have fulfilled. “We had a client request a full-fledged birthday celebration on board, complete with decorations and, of course, birthday cake, for her mother’s 40th. It was interesting to strategise how we would accommodate all her friends in one small private jet and personalise all  the décor in time,” she smiles.

One of the changes that Tekriwal has noticed in the sector post the pandemic is in people’s perceptions towards charter flights. “Pre-COVID, private jetting was considered a sheer luxury or a huge expenditure to impress, but the pandemic has redefined this notion to a great  extent. Now, it’s a matter of health  and privacy-consciousness for individuals and businesses, which is deemed to be a new normal,” she informs us. As a result, she has seen new clientele in terms of start-up founders. There is also an increase in demand for personal use, whereas, earlier, it was mostly from businesses.

09/02/22 Shraddha Kamdar/

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