Companies

The man who propelled IndiGo to great heights

Ashwini Phadnis | | | Updated on: Apr 29, 2018
Aditya Ghosh, President, IndiGo

Aditya Ghosh, President, IndiGo

Aditya Ghosh, who will quit as President of IndiGo from July 31, was a part of the low-cost airline even before it started operations.

With a degree in law, Ghosh was working with a PR consulting firm which was hired by IndiGo’s parent company InterGlobe before the airline was launched. At that time Ghosh was said to be putting together IndiGo’s legal documentation. He eventually joined IndiGo as its Legal Counsel.

“It is to Aditya’s credit that he managed to successfully implement and grow the model that Bruce Ashby, the first IndiGo President, had put in place,” says a person in a rival airline who has known Ghosh for over a decade.

Under Ghosh, IndiGo became the fastest-growing private airline in the country. It was voted one of the best companies to work for in 2015 for the seventh year in a row. In 2007, Ghosh was inducted to the airline’s board and he became its President the following year which put him at the head of all operations and management of IndiGo.

On the top

Others point to the fact that there has been an eight-fold increase in the airline’s topline over the past decade and IndiGo now has a market cap of over ₹55,000 crore and the stock price is nearly double of the IPO price. Incidentally, IndiGo listed on the stock exchange under Ghosh in 2015. Its IPO was the largest in aviation history at about $4.5 billion.

While Ghosh was not available for comments on his decision to leave IndiGo, there had been rumours for a while that a move was underway to replace him. Industry watchers point to signals like people from outside being brought in about 9-10 months ago to look at revenue management and other issues, including the airline’s network planning. In January, Wolfgang Prock-Shauer joined the airline as Chief Operating Officer reporting to Ghosh. For many in the industry these were signals that it was a question of time before Ghosh was eased out.

Many issues

According to industry sources, another possible reason for Ghosh’s leaving is that the promoters were left handling way too many things like the issue with Pratt and Whitney engines on some of the airline’s aircraft and the manner in which the airline suo moto announced its decision to bid for Air India and then suddenly decided to pull out once the terms and conditions and the bidding criterion for the Maharaja were made public. IndiGo’s announcement to bid for Air India saw the airline’s stocks take a tumble. Then there was also an incident when a passenger was manhandled by the airline’s staff at the Delhi airport which dented the airline’s brand image.

Those close to him deny that Ghosh was asked to leave saying that he walked away rather than was fired as he has always believed that it is better to walk away when at the very top. While there have been reports that Ghosh would start something of his own, Mark Martin, Chief Executive Officer, Martin Consulting, says there is not too much to read in between the lines on Ghosh’s stepping down.

“Aditya has played a vital role with shaping IndiGo to what it is today, and effective dynamic managers tend to move on to newer and more challenging roles. I don’t think beyond a point he’d like to have stuck around doing the same mundane job,” he says.

Published on April 29, 2018

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