InterGlobe Aviation has named its co-founder Rahul Bhatia as its managing director, a newly-created position at the Gurugram-headquartered company that runs IndiGo, India’s largest airline.
IndiGo’s board of directors on Friday unanimously approved, with immediate effect, the appointment of Bhatia, subject to necessary regulatory approvals, the company said in an exchange filing. Prior to being named the company’s managing director, Bhatia was its non-executive director.
IndiGo Chairman M. Damodaran hailed the board’s decision, saying that the move will further strengthen the airline in the years ahead. Bhatia will oversee all aspects of the airline, and actively lead the management team, he said.
Bhatia’s appointment came on a day when India’s biggest passenger airline, with a market share in upwards of 53% as of October 2021, surprisingly swung back to profit, posting a profit of Rs 1.3 billion in the three months to December 31 and beating analysts’ forecasts of a loss.
Bhatia has been appointed MD for a period of five years, and he will not draw any remuneration during his tenure, other than the benefits or perquisites to which he is entitled as per the rules of the company.
Bhatia said that his agenda would be transformational and focus on expanding the airline’s presence in India and in international markets and building for the long term.
Bhatia’s appointment also indicates an end to a bitter feud with his fellow co-founder Rakesh Gangwal, an American businessman who had accused the former of corporate governance lapses. Bhatia takes charge a month after the shareholders approved dropping a controversial clause that Gangwal said restricted his share-transfer rights and gave Bhatia “unusual controlling rights”.
Gangwal and Bhatia together hold more than 74% stake in the airline.
Bhatia, 61, holds a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. He set up InterGlobe Enterprises in 1989 with its flagship business of Air Transport Management. In over 30 years, the InterGlobe Group has diversified its portfolio, which now includes civil aviation (IndiGo), hospitality, airline management, travel commerce, advanced pilot training, and aircraft maintenance engineering.