The Indian airline sector has witnessed a series of leadership changes, which sees veterans moving to helm several carriers.

The 18 May announcement of KLM chief Pieter Elbers to take helm of Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo is the latest in a series of leadership changes to take place not just within the airline, but also across the country’s airline sector.

Airport India

Source: Abdul Munaff/

IndiGo’s fleet has grown beyond pre-crisis levels

Indeed, Indian carriers have in recent months seen a series of top-level changes, including among new upstarts.

It comes as the Indian airline sector looks to find its way out of the coronavirus crisis, which hit India particularly hard in the middle of 2021.


No other carrier exemplifies the big shake-up as much as IndiGo, which in a three-month span from February, announced a series of executive changes.

On 18 February, airline co-founder Rakesh Gangwal announced his departure from the parent company InterGlobe Aviation, as well as plans to reduce his stake in the coming years.

Then, in late-March, the carrier said finance chief Jiten Chopra was stepping down effective immediately to “pursue other interests”. General Electric veteran Gaurav Negi was named to take over.

A day later, IndiGo commercial chief Willy Boulter disclosed in a television interview that he intended to step down in July. No successor has been named.

Finally, on 18 May, the airline announced that KLM’s Elbers was to succeed current chief Ronojoy Dutta, who is retiring after nearly four years in charge.


Other than IndiGo, other Indian carriers have also seen the arrival of industry veterans as their new leaders, all of whom are industry veterans

Air India, the newly-privatised national carrier, announced the appointment of Scoot chief Campbell Wilson as its new chief executive from mid-June.

Wilson was the founding chief executive of Scoot between 2011 and 2016, before he returned to SIA to head the airline’s sales and marketing team. He also had experience running SIA’s overseas operations in Canada, Hong Kong and Japan.

Air India came under new owners Tata Sons in January, ending years of efforts by New Delhi to privatise the Star Alliance carrier.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Another carrier looking to restart operations under new owners is Jet Airways, which collapsed in 2019 after running out of cash. It was revived by new owners Murari Lal Jalan and Kalrock Capital.

The airline has appointed industry veteran Sanjiv Kapoor as its new chief. Kapoor was previously chief strategy and commercial officer at Vistara, as well as SpiceJet’s operations head before that.

Meanwhile, upstart Akasa Air has ex-Jet Airways chief Vinay Dube helming the low-cost carrier. The carrier, which has not commenced operations, is backed by Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, and will operate Boeing 737 Max aircraft.