Sanjiv Kapoor to take over as new SpiceJet CEO

Kapoor, who joined the airline as chief operating officer in November, will be filling in the shoes of Neil Mills, who quit in July to join Philippine Airlines as chief executive adviser.


Since Sanjiv Kapoor is a US citizen, he will need the home ministry’s approval before being inducted as SpiceJet’s CEO.
Since Sanjiv Kapoor is a US citizen, he will need the home ministry’s approval before being inducted as SpiceJet’s CEO.

New Delhi: Sanjiv Kapoor will take over as the new chief executive of Kalanithi Maran-promoted SpiceJet Ltd in a few months as the budget airline hopes to restart investment talks.

“The board has cleared him for the CEO’s position subject to regulatory approvals,” said a person with knowledge of the subject who declined to be named.

Kapoor, who joined the airline as chief operating officer in November, will be filling in the shoes of Neil Mills, who quit in July to join Philippine Airlines as chief executive adviser.

London-based Kapoor was formerly CEO of Bangladesh’s GMG Airlines and has worked with Northwest Airlines, Bain and Co., Temasek Holdings Pvt. Ltd and Boston Consulting Group.

As an American citizen, he will need the home ministry’s approval before being inducted as SpiceJet’s CEO.

A second person aware of the matter confirmed that Kapoor will head the airline as its CEO. This official, too, declined to be identified. Kapoor declined to comment on the story.

Kapoor faces a daunting task ahead.

The Gurgaon-based airline is set to post a record loss of about Rs.1,186 crore for 2013-14, equivalent to its combined losses from fiscal years 2007 to 2013, according to estimates by consulting firm Centre for Aviation (Capa).

The Chennai-based Marans have pumped Rs.483.34 crore into SpiceJet over the past three fiscal years, but lost Rs.796 crore in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Besides, India’s already strained aviation industry will see more competition in the next financial year when Tata Sons Ltd’s new airline joint ventures AirAsia (India) Pvt. Ltd and Tata SIA Airlines Ltd begin operations.

Kapoor has already created a new crack team to steer SpiceJet’s operations, allowing some officers to go and filling some vacant positions.

The first person quoted above said there will no more exits from the airline’s top team unless the new airlines “poach them”.

SpiceJet, which roped in consulting firm Bain and Co. late last year, has completed most of the work assigned to it, including route rationalizing, cost head evaluation and feedback on organizational health.

Kapoor’s elevation is likely to be formally announced after the end of fiscal first quarter in June, which the airline is hoping will be profitable.

Profits and a potential turnaround will likely make SpiceJet more attractive to international investors, the first person said.

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