Former KLM Royal Dutch Airlines President and Chief Executive Officer Pieter Elbers will take the helm of Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo, effective October 1. Elbers will succeed Ronojoy Dutta, who will retire on September 30, the company said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.
The news came just months after many top executives left the 16-year old airline following the appointment of billionaire co-founder Rahul Bhatia as the managing director in February, while co-founder Rakesh Gangwal stepped down from its board.
“Elbers’ deep understanding of the business, his legendary leadership qualities coupled with his energy and passion, we are ever so confident that under his stewardship, IndiGo will play a pivotal role in this growth opportunity,” Bhatia said.
Elbers started his career at KLM in 1992 at its Schiphol hub and over time, held several managerial positions in the Netherlands, Japan, Greece and Italy. His appointment, which got the IndiGo board’s blessing on Wednesday, is yet to get regulatory and shareholder nods.
An aviation expert wondered if the new CEO would get enough freedom to run IndiGo.
"Ronojoy going brings things back to Rahul Bhatia. He has to decide what he wants with the airline. Does it mean Rahul Bhatia will run the show and the new CEO would take care of the day-to-day administration? That is something he has to decide. Bhatia is a strategy-driven person and he is comfortable doing it himself. To what extent is he going to give these responsibilities to the new CEO, that's what we need to look out for,” said Mark Martin, chief executive at aviation industry consultancy Martin Consulting LLC.