IndiGo appoints Ronojoy Dutta as CEO,an IIT grad who handled United Airlines’ 9/11 nightmare

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As airline turbulence goes, not many can equal Ronojoy Dutta in experience and insights. His battle scars from the global aviation industry’s worst nightmare, the 9/11 attacks, stand testimony to that.

And InterGlobe Aviation, which owns India’s low-cost private carrier IndiGo, must have counted on just that when it announced yesterday (Jan. 24) that Dutta has been appointed CEO of the company.The airline, India’s biggest by market share, is in need of some drastic manoeuvres. It posted a loss of Rs652 crore ($92million) in the July-September quarter of financial year 2019—the first time it went into the red since listing on the stock exchange three years ago. It corrected course in the October-December quarter, but profits were about 75% lower year-on-year at Rs190.9 crore.

While 67-year-old Dutta’s been working on a five-year business plan for IndiGo ever since he was made a principal consultant in December, now he will be in direct control.
Dutta was president of United Airlines between 1999 and 2002 and is a former colleague of IndiGo cofounder Rakesh Gangwal. He succeeds Aditya Ghosh, who quit eight months ago and has since joined Oyo. Cofounder Rahul Bhatia had served as interim CEO in the intervening period.

A strategic adviser for several carriers such as Air Canada and Hawaiian Airlines, Dutta spent 17 years at United Airlines. Gangwal was with the airline between 1984 and 1994, before moving to US Airways, Dutta later became a strategic adviser and member of the board. Dutta headed Air Sahara from 2004 to 2006 and quit just before its takeover by Jet Airways %. After graduating from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Dutta got his management degree from Harvard Business School.

He has also advised financial institutions such as Cerberus, Greenbriar, Houlihan Lokey and aviation consultancy AAR Corp.

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