Mumbai: Gary Toomey, a former chief financial officer (CFO) of Qantas Airways Ltd, is tipped to be the next chief executive officer (CEO) at Jet Airways (India) Ltd, according to two people aware of the development.
Toomey, an Australian, is slated to replace Greek-American Nikos Kardassis at the helm of India’s second largest airline by passengers carried, the two people said, requesting anonymity.
The change at the top comes at a time when Etihad Airways PJSC of the United Arab Emirates on 24 April agreed to buy a 24% stake in Jet Airways for $379 million, setting the stage for the Mumbai-based airline to become the first beneficiary of a policy change that allowed foreign airlines to invest in domestic ones.
Etihad and Jet Airways declined to comment. Mint could not contact Toomey for a confirmation.
“When a new shareholder or promoter comes in, they bring their own senior management to implement their own methods, practices and philosophy,” said K. Sudarshan, country head of London-based EMA Partners International Ltd, a global executive search firm.
In 2010, when media baron Kalanithi Maran of Sun TV Network Ltd bought a majority stake in India’s second largest low-fare carrier SpiceJet Ltd from its promoters, chief executive Sanjay Aggarwal had quit and later joined the top post at now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.
When Kingfisher Airlines acquired Deccan Aviation Ltd, which ran India’s first low-fare airline Air Deccan, its chief executive Ramki Sundaram returned to London-based Investec Bank (UK) Ltd as global head for mergers and acquisitions and an adviser to its aviation business.
Also, Sudarshan noted, Indian aviation hasn’t groomed sufficient leadership talent and never had professional succession planning. “Indian civil aviation is yet to have proper home-grown CEOs barring IndiGo,” he said. “The industry had collectively failed in doing so.”
Before Kardassis, who is serving his second stint as CEO of Jet Airways and was a part of the firm’s 1993 founding team, Austrian Wolfgang Prock-Schauer led the airline.
SpiceJet is run by Neil Raymond Mills, a South African, while low-fare carrier GoAir is run by Italian Giorgio De Roni.
Besides Australia’s Quantas, Toomey has also worked as CEO of Airlines PNG (Papua New Guinea) till 21 November, according to information available on its website. He had earlier worked as CEO of Air New Zealand. Toomey had also served as a director of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.
Toomey is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants, the Taxation Institute of Australia, the Australian Institute of Management, and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Bhd’s CEO and founder, said on 21 April that the board of AirAsia (India) Pvt. Ltd has appointed a chief executive. “He will be a revelation. Thrilled to have him on board,” Fernandes wrote on Twitter but did not name the top executive.
On 5 March, Fernandes had written on Twitter that he had “selected the CEO for AirAsia India. A very smart boy from the South, Madras. An amazing CV…will impress all”.
Fernandes did not reply to emails and texts to his mobile phone seeking a confirmation whether the CEO will be from the Tata group, a joint venture partner of AirAsia.