Home >Companies >News >Jet Airways to expand board to include Anita Goyal, 3 others
Etihad’s investment will let the loss-making Jet expand its fleet and pare debt after posting a combined loss of `2,806 crore over the past seven fiscal years because of high fuel costs and competition. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
Etihad’s investment will let the loss-making Jet expand its fleet and pare debt after posting a combined loss of `2,806 crore over the past seven fiscal years because of high fuel costs and competition. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
(Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

Jet Airways to expand board to include Anita Goyal, 3 others

Anita Goyal will be an adviser to new CEO Gary Kenneth Toomey, who took charge on 27 September

New Delhi:

Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways (India) Ltd will expand its board to include Goyal’s wife Anita Goyal and other members to reflect Etihad Airways PJSC’s investment in the firm.

A new chief executive, Gary Kenneth Toomey, took charge of the airline on 27 September, even as Jet was still in the process of getting clearances from government agencies to sell a 24% stake to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways in a deal valued at 5,600 crore, said a person familiar with the matter, declining to be named.

“It’s all clear now," this person said. “The new changes will show over the new few months."

Jet currently has seven board members.

This will be expanded to include two more board members from Jet and two from Etihad, the person said. Besides Anita Goyal, Jet is likely to nominate chief operating officer Hameed Ali to the board, he said.

Jet Airways declined to comment.

Etihad had initially sought to have three members on Jet’s board, including its chief executive James Hogan, chief financial officer James Rigney, and one more executive.

However, under new agreements signed between the airlines after capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India objected to the plan, only two Etihad nominees will be included in Jet’s board, said the person mentioned above.

Once these four members join, Jet’s board will have several foreigners and non-resident Indians.

The existing board members are Naresh Goyal, Ali Ghandour, Victoriano P. Dungca, Gaurang Shetty, Javed Akhtar, I.M. Kadri and Aman Mehta.

Toomey, Jet’s new chief executive, has already started managing the airline. He was working on the sidelines while the deal was still in process and has taken over the reigns of Jet after all his regulatory approvals were cleared, said a second person familiar with the developments, also declining to be identified.

Toomey replaced founder Naresh Goyal’s long-term aide Nikos Kardassis.

Anita Goyal, who was earlier executive vice-president, network planning and revenue management, at Jet, will now be an adviser to Toomey.

In the past few weeks, Jet has lost a number of key executives, including K.G. Vishwanath, vice-president, commercial strategy and investor relations. Chief commercial officer Sudheer Raghavan may also have resigned, said the first person quoted earlier.

Abdulrahman Albusaidy, an Omani national who was group executive officer and in charge of the Gulf market at Jet, has been redesignated as chief strategic planning officer and given wider powers.

“Jet is now moving to a more professional and organized structure and a new era begins," said Kapil Kaul, South Asia chief executive officer at consultancy Capa Centre for Aviation. “Sorting out their domestic business is key to me but focus and priority will be on international network."

The Jet group operates nearly 550 daily flights, both domestic and international, with a fleet of 113 aircraft. Many of these international flights will now be routed through Abu Dhabi and over the next few years, at least 23 Indian cities will be connected to Abu Dhabi, feeding into the Etihad global flight network.

The 5,600-crore investment will also allow the loss-making Jet to expand its fleet and pare debt after posting a combined loss of 2,806 crore over the past seven fiscal years because of high fuel costs and competition from low-fare airlines such as IndiGo, run by InterGlobe Aviation Pvt. Ltd.

Jet still faces one last hurdle. Subramanian Swamy, a leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking scrapping of the deal on several grounds including that the Indian government provided thousands of sovereign bilateral flying rights to Abu Dhabi as a sweetener for Etihad to buy a stake in Jet. The petition is expected to be heard on Tuesday, Swamy said on Friday.

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