Image: Danish Siddiqui /Reuters Name: Aditya Ghosh
₹6.48 crore in FY17Education:
Has a bachelor’s degree in law and history from Delhi University
A lawyer by profession, Aditya Ghosh took over the reins of IndiGo in August 2008, replacing aviation veteran Bruce Ashby. He was the first outsider with a non-aviation background to lead an Indian airline. Other outsiders that followed him were Mittu Chandilya and Amar Abrol, consecutive CEOs of AirAsia India between May 2013 and May 2018.
Under Ghosh’s stewardship, IndiGo’s fleet grew from 18 aircraft to over 160, operating more than a thousand daily flights. Under him, the airline’s revenue increased eight-fold, and it became the only Indian airline to report profits for nine consecutive years. But there were certain market dynamics that favoured IndiGo: No new airline grew big enough to challenge IndiGo.
Ghosh provided IndiGo with stability and continuity in terms of leadership, while rivals like Jet Airways had seven CEOs in the last five years. That said, all of IndiGo’s success cannot be attributed to one man. Behind the scenes were promoters Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal, who were proactive on all critical matters such as aircraft purchase and leases.
Ghosh stayed true to the low-cost model by focusing on increasing frequency in key routes rather than chasing new routes. For example, IndiGo operates around 34 direct flights between Mumbai and New Delhi per day. Between New Delhi and Bengaluru it operates 33 flights per day and it has 24 flights between Bengaluru and Mumbai.
While IndiGo has dominated domestic skies, it has just a 5 percent share of international traffic. Ten years at the helm was good enough for Ghosh to chart a bigger international flight path. But, again, many would say that an international strategy, would have needed the promoters’ approval.
Recently, IndiGo was engulfed in negative publicity— from its staff being accused of rude behaviour to engine issues in its aircraft. Many analysts say the management was not forthcoming with responses. IndiGo’s second and third quarter profits got a boost as Pratt & Whitney and Airbus compensated it for glitches in its engines and delays in delivering A320neo aircraft respectively. Profits for the fourth quarter, however, plunged 73 percent.
(This story appears in the 25 May, 2018 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)