Mumbai: Sanjiv Kapoor has resigned as chief operating officer (COO) of SpiceJet Ltd, India’s second-largest low-fare airline, after piloting it through two turbulent years.

“It has been a time where we have redefined the rules of the game in the Indian market, where we have broken stereotypes, challenged the status quo, brought colour and joy to the skies, and survived a near-death experience together in December 2014, until the company was bought by and back in the arms of its co-founder, Ajay Singh, probably the only person in the world who’s passion for SpiceJet exceeds mine!," Kapoor wrote in his farewell note on Thursday. Mint has reviewed the email.

Kapoor was hired by SpiceJet’s former promoter and media baron Kalanithi Maran in 2013. Kapoor was earlier chief executive of Bangladesh’s GMG Airlines and has more than 19 years of experience in the airline industry, having worked with airlines in Asia, Europe and the US as a part of management, as a management consultant, and as an investment adviser in the aviation space, including at Northwest Airlines, Bain and Co., Temasek Holdings Pvt. Ltd and Boston Consulting Group.

In a late night statement, SpiceJet said Kapoor will be leaving the company effective 31 October after two years with the organisation.

“We thank Sanjiv for leading SpiceJet at a very difficult time. He has been, and will remain, a strong and passionate supporter of the airline", said Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director. “We wish Sanjiv all success in his future endeavours."

Kapoor recalled the airline’s darkest hour on 16 December 2014, when the airline had to ground flights for 10 hours and employees on the frontlines were abused and even assaulted by agitated passengers.

“Today, we are once again proudly back on our feet, again driving innovation and leading the industry across many dimensions, and showing the world that SpiceJet could never be written off—as I had said during our troubled times, we are made of metal, not jelly!," Kapoor wrote.

Kapil Kaul, chief executive officer (south Asia) at aviation consulting firm Capa India, said organizations must be set up to succeed and not expect one person to change things. “I wish him good luck. I have always believed, Sanjiv Kapoor was rather unlucky as SpiceJet had no funds, erstwhile promoters had lost interest and coupled with very adverse market conditions ensured opposite outcomes."

Kapoor has made SpiceJet a leader in stimulating the market with discounted fares. The airline had at least a dozen flash sales in the last 10 months.

Kapoor had also launched several new products including SpiceMAX (select seats with much more legroom) and hand baggage-only fares.

Kapoor claimed that these innovations have helped the airline script a turnaround by stimulating demand.

A person closed to development said Kapoor is evaluating three offers including one offer from an Indian airline.

Earlier this year, SpiceJet saw a change of ownership after the airline landed in financial trouble.

On 5 December, the civil aviation regulator asked the airline to stop sales of tickets more than a month in advance.

The move, meant to protect customers, ended up precipitating a crisis. The restriction choked one of SpiceJet’s last revenue sources. With the fuel vendors refusing to tank up its planes before it cleared their dues, SpiceJet grounded all its planes on 17 December.

In January, Ajay Singh, a co-founder of SpiceJet Ltd who sold his stake in the airline in 2010, re-entered SpiceJet by buying a controlling stake from Kalanithi Maran.

The low-cost airline is now back in business under a new management, with more flights and aggressive discounts.

SpiceJet reported a net profit of 71.84 crore for the first quarter ended 30 June compared to a loss of 124.10 crore in the year-ago period. The airline had swung to profit in the preceding quarter, after six straight quarters of losses. SpiceJet is yet to announce September quarter earnings.

Close