Aditya Ghosh’s IndiGo exit not linked to engine issue, says Rahul Bhatia

InterGlobe Aviation Ltd co-founder and director Rahul Bhatia dismissed speculation that the exit of president Aditya Ghosh had anything to do with the turbulent year that IndiGo, the airline operated by the company, has experienced, including the trouble it has been having with the engines of its Airbus A320neo aircraft.

Bhatia said that the airline was working with engine maker Pratt and Whitney to resolve the problem: “Pratt & Whitney is doing everything it can to sort out the issues with the engine and we are confident that they will eventually get there,” he said.

Ghosh, the face of IndiGo—Bhatia is obsessive about maintaining a low-profile and co-founder Rakesh Gangwal lives in the US—quit the airline in a surprise move last week, but according to insiders at the company, the move had been brewing for some time. One of these people said on condition of anonymity that Ghosh had indicated a desire around six months ago to move on, spend more time with his family, and perhaps try something new. The board managed to convince him then, but he expressed the same desire again after a few months, and said he would like to time his exit with the completion of his 10th year at IndiGo. Ghosh joined the airline on 1 August 2008 and his last day is to be 31 July 2018.

This person added that it was also incorrect to attribute the exit of Ghosh to the hiring of senior expat managers, and pointed out that the airline has only a few such, and in key functional roles where specialized expertise is needed—revenue management and network planning. According to this person, it was always clear that the airline would be strengthening its senior management ranks as it realized that what has gotten it so far will not be enough to help it succeed in future, but added all these people would have worked under Ghosh had he stayed on.

Bhatia, who’s stepped in to oversee the transition with Ghosh’s exit, said Greg Taylor, who has been named adviser, would join next week, and that once his name was cleared by regulators, would take over as CEO of the airline.

Apart from the issue with the engines, the other big news at IndiGo over the past few months was its interest in Air India, and its eventual decision, after the government made public its terms for divesting the state-owned firm, to withdraw from the race. Like the decision on the Neo aircraft, this was a decision made by the board, not just CEO, the person cited in the first instance said. And as far as the engines are concerned, this person said, the aircraft remained safe, and the firm had pruned its fuel bill by as much as 15% on account of the fuel-efficient aircraft. Hindustan Times couldn’t independently verify this claim.

IndiGo doesn’t have the wherewithal to turn around Air India within the suggested framework of disinvestment, Bhatia added.

Bhatia said Ghosh was largely responsible for the unique culture at the airline and that he also seemed to know most employees, including junior ones by name. “He had a phenomenal connect with people,” Bhatia said. “Many are sad to see him go but respect his decision.”

As does he, Bhatia added. “Aditya is still a young man; I wish him well.”livemint


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