In a move that is seen by many industry insiders as beneficial to Air Costa, Vivek Choudhary, a young and dynamic 33 year old has today taken over the reins at the airline, as its Chief Financial officer (CFO) and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO).
Vivek has a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Computer Science from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) in Finance and marketing, from the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode. He started his career as a Business Analyst at GMR Group, where he got his first taste of the aviation sector, in the field of airport infrastructure. He later moved onto PVP Ventures, and quickly climbed the ladder to the post of Vice President, Pioneer Group, and later, Vice President of PVP Ventures. He was also a partner at NITSA VIDAE Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd.: a Business Consulting firm focused on Market research, Project Feasibility Studies, Valuation Studies and the whole cycle of Fund raising. His involvement in these fields makes him ideally suited to understand the very subjects that airlines both revolve around, and are plagued with, especially in a country that is hostile to this sector.
In April 2010, Vivek joined LEPL Projects Limited as Vice President – Corporate Finance. Vivek was instrumental in the setup, and planning of Air Costa, from the days when it was just an idea, and has lived through the red-tapism, bureaucracy and frustration that any startup airline will go through, more so when it is not an offshoot of an already established airline brand. He and his team studied the airline market and made strong attempts to avoid the mistakes of other airlines. Yet, the regional nature of the airline throws open a different battlefield, where the rules of the game may have to be twisted, in part: a challenge when an airline is the first of its kind in recent years, and inexperienced.
The Flying Engineer had an opportunity to interact with Mr. Vivek, and was pleasantly surprised to find a financial officer very well versed with the technical terms, jargon, and nuances in the world of aviation. Vivek is beyond financial: he has a keen eye and an unquenchable thirst for the technical aspects of aviation. He is weak on show and strong on performance.
These perceived qualities make Vivek the ideal candidate for the role of the Chief Officer-Financial and Commercial. He will be guided and assisted by a few former Finnair executives.
In the words of the director-regional business development of a leading aircraft manufacturer, “We need more Viveks in this country. He understands the subject. He’s willing to learn. He sees what others miss. And that can make all the difference”.
We wish the soft spoken, humble, and attention-shy young gentleman all the very best in steering India’s youngest airline towards profitable routes and smooth operations.
For a country where the mainstream media is expected to sensationalise any and every news related to aviation, it comes as a surprise how the otherwise over-enthusiastic media has not been able to connect the dots in the recent developments at SpiceJet.
In November 2013, SpiceJet “appointed" Sanjiv Kapoor as its Chief Operations Officer (COO). Sanjiv Kapoor held the position of Senior Director, Temasek Holdings for 1yr 8 months. Temasek Holdings, directly and indirectly through Singapore Airlines has a significant stake in Tiger Airways, which operates as Tigerair.
Now, in February 2014, SpiceJet announced the “appointment" of Kaneswaran Avili as Chief Commercial Officer, effective April 1st 2014. Interestingly, the position he holds today is Director-Commercial at Tiger Airways, and has held that position since October 2012.
Men with very, very impressive resumes are being “appointed" by SpiceJet, a sure sign of good times to come. Interestingly, men related to Tiger Airways, in the past and the present, are joining Spicejet, which seems less of an “appointment" and more of an insert. In simple language: Tiger Airways seems to be actively reforming the airline with its own people before it can invest in SpiceJet.
The experience that the COO and the CCO bring seem to be complimentary: Sanjiv Kapoor has had experience only with full service, legacy carriers. That is great from the operational perspective. Although successful low cost airlines have been known for streamlined operations, the experience Sanjiv gained at leading airlines can help transform the way in which the SpiceJet brand is viewed today. Dirty seats, dirty airplanes, and unhappy services are on their way out.
Kaneswaran, on the other hand comes with a solid experience of 12 years not the “airline" industry, but the low cost airline Industry. He was part of the start up team of AirAsia in 2001, played a pivotal role in Air Asia’s expansion into neighbouring countries. He’s been associated with famous low cost brands: Air Asia, and Garuda Indonesia Citilink. Importantly, he was engaged by Viva Macau, Macau first LCC start up, where he was tasked with the responsibility for re-engineering the commercial unit and implementation of new commercial and network strategies to return the airline to route profitability. Recently, Kanesh completed a short but intense commercial transformation project for Citilink Indonesia. These responsibilities and experience are what SpiceJet can do with.
Sanjiv’s full service experience in operations and Kaneswaran’s rich low cost experience can, if well leveraged, make SpiceJet the preferred low cost airline: based on fares, and on service. Something that IndiGo is already known for.
“His deep domain knowledge on airline commercial across sales & distribution, revenue management, marketing, network planning, airline system and market penetration strategy would be key in transforming SpiceJet commercial capability and improving overall route and airline profitability," said Mr. Sanjiv Kapoor, Chief Operating Officer, SpiceJet Ltd.
Interestingly, Sanjiv Kapoor, more than a week ago, said, “SpiceJet is also demonstrating that you do not need foreign airlines to show India the power of low fares and market stimulation; we are just as capable of doing it ourselves, and are committed to creating multiple opportunities for as many Indians as possible to fly." That ambiguous statement was clarified by SpiceJet as referring to “Air Asia’s constant claims that they will stimulate demand."
And now we have on board the airline the very man who was part of the start up team of AirAsia.
Says Sanjiv Kapoor, “Kanesh’s joining is part of an ongoing refresh of SpiceJet’s management team, with further announcements to be made in the coming weeks"