New Delhi: Kingfisher Airlines Ltd’s vice-president for global sales Siva Ramachandran has quit, days before the carrier starts flights to new destinations in South-East Asia, marking the company’s fourth top-management exit this year.
Ramachandran was instrumental in launching Kingfisher’s international operations late last year. He declined to comment when asked about his resignation.
Unexpected move: A May photo of Siva Ramachandran (left) with Air Marshal Jamaluddin Ahmed of Biman Bangladesh Airlines at the launch of Kingfisher Airlines services connecting Dhaka and Kolkata.
A Kingfisher spokesman also declined to comment while saying that next week’s launches were “completely on track”.
Vijay K. Arora, a long-time executive of the parent UB Group, is managing sales, said a Kingfisher official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Arora, who was heading Kingfisher’s sales for the northern and eastern zones till February, has been given charge of domestic sales.
It was not immediately clear whether Ramachandran, a former regional manager at Qatar Airways, would be taking up a new appointment.
His resignation may hit the upcoming launches—daily direct flights from Mumbai to Hong Kong and Singapore.
The departure comes after Vikram Malhotra quit as vice-president of marketing last month. In mid-June, vice-president Ramki Sundaram left, followed by D.D. Gandhi, vice-president of domestic and international operations.
Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation’s chief executive officer for India, Kapil Kaul, said the airline needed a stronger commercial team. “They have not been able to translate the product into passengers as much as they should have,” he said.
Making money on international routes will depend on the strategy adopted, he said.
“The question is whether you can leverage hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore and take the traffic to Australia, New Zealand and the US or you are doing point-to-point service. That takes time to build up,” Kaul said. The airline may find it difficult to fill planes initially in the absence of code-sharing alliances.
Kingfisher has also sought aviation ministry approval to expand its international operations by connecting Bangkok and Dubai with Mumbai and New Delhi. The airline also wants to fly to London from New Delhi, instead of Bangalore.
The airline has been asked to fix its network planning before seeking any routing change, said an aviation ministry official who declined to be named.
The carrier is keen on early permissions as it has suspended the existing Bangalore-London service “looking at the booked loads and yields” from 15 September, leaving the much-sought-after slot for Heathrow airport in London vacant.
There are four direct flights landing from New Delhi within the same two-hour period at Heathrow averaging 60% occupancy currently, the ministry official said, comparing it with lesser competition Kingfisher faced from Bangalore, which had just one direct London flight. “We are actually helping them save more losses.”