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Airlines in India: Aiming for more

In and despite the challenges and a loss of over US$ 2 billion for the year ended March 2012, airlines in India have charted out expansion plans. A look at these plans and the people behind them.

Air India

Rohit Nandan, IAS, is the CMD of Air India Ltd. Prior to his current position; he was Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt of India. He did his post graduation in History and his MBA from United Kingdom. Nandan joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1982 and belongs to the Uttar Pradesh cadre. He has held posts in Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Social Justice and Empowerment, Disabled Welfare, rural Development.

National carrier, Air India (AI) was first launched as Tata Airlines in 1932. The carrier was nationalised in 1953 and has been in Government hands since. AI was designated to operate primarily international routes, while its state owned counterpart, Indian Airlines, focused on domestic and short-haul regional services till the Government approved plans to merge the two in 2007 to create one of Asia’s largest airlines by fleet with over 120 aircraft, a stronger international and domestic network and the potential to generate operational efficiencies. The carrier has a low cost subsidiary, Air India Express, operating regional international routes to the Gulf and Southeast Asia. Air India has a current market share of 18.2 per cent as of July 2012 and aims to reach a fleet size of 245 by 2018-19.

Jet Airways

Nikos Kardassis, CEO, has formerly held the same position with Jet Airways from 1994 to 1999. Kardassis began his career with TWA, holding various finance and operational positions. He has over two decades of extensive leadership and business management experience. He joined Merrill Lynch later as President for GECAT and was also the MD and Head of Business Development and Distribution for their Global Bank Group.

Jet Airways, India’s first private airline, commenced its commercial operations in 1993 and currently operates a fleet of 99 aircraft, which include 10 Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft, 11 Airbus A330-200 aircraft, 58 next generation Boeing 737-700/800/900 aircraft and 20 modern ATR 72-500 turboprop aircraft. It flies to 74 destinations and also operates JetKonnect, a consolidation of the erstwhile JetLite and Jet Airways Konnect brands which operates 400 daily flights connecting 56 destinations across India.

The carrier will continue its focus on strict cost control during the current financial year. They have announced pull out of their Mumbai – Johannesburg, Chennai – Kuala Lumpur, Brussels – JFK and Chennai – Dubai.


SpiceJet began service in 2005 and by 2008, was India’s second-largest low-cost airline with 17.8 per cent market share as of July 2012. SpiceJet is currently operates more than 280 daily flights to 36 Indian cities and three international destinations. It has a fleet of 35 Boeing 737-800/ 900ER and recently acquired 12 new Bombardier Q400 aircraft for enhancing connectivity to tier II and III cities. SpiceJet now flies to Amritsar, Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh, Goa, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Madurai, Mangalore, Rajahmundry, Srinagar, Tirupati, Trichy, Trivandrum, Tuticorin, Vijayawada, and Vizag.

Neil Raymond Mills has been the Chief Executive Officer of SpiceJet since July 8, 2010. Prior to this, he served as the Chief Financial Officer of Flydubai. He joined easyJet in October 1997, and served as Procurement Director of easyJet plc from June 2008. He was responsible for all the fleet transactions and procurement across easyJet.

Kingfisher Airlines

Vijay Mallya is the Chairman of Kingifisher Airlines. Mallya took over the reins of UB Group at the young age of 28 and has been instrumental in growing it into a multinational business conglomerate. He is the Chairman of the UB Group and several other public companies in India and abroad and is the first Indian ever to become the owner of a Formula One Team.

Kingfisher Airlines was established in 2003 and is owned by the Bengaluru-based United Breweries Group. The airline started commercial operations in 2005 with a fleet of four new Airbus A320-200s, and started its international operations in 2008. Ever since the airline commenced operations in 2005, it has been reporting losses. After acquiring Air Deccan, Kingfisher suffered a loss of over Rs 1,000 crores for three consecutive years. By early 2012, the airline accumulated losses of over 7,000 crores with half of its fleet grounded and several members of its staff going on strike. It currently serves 25 domestic destinations in India. It suspended all international operations from 10 April, 2012.


IndiGo, the largest airline in India with a market share of 27 per cent, is a private, low-cost airline. It has established itself as one of India’s leading airlines using its model of efficient, low-cost operations and by attracting customers with low fares. The carrier placed a firm order of 100 Airbus A320-200 aircraft during June 2005 and in 2011, it placed the largest order of 180 aircraft in commercial aviation history. IndiGo’s first international service was launched on 1 September 2011. IndiGo has a fleet size of 57 aircraft and connects 32 destinations in India and abroad with 357 flights daily.

Aditya Ghosh has been President of Indigo Airlines since 2008 and plays an instrumental role in the management of InterGlobe Enterprises Limited’s affairs and advising and formulating on growth strategies of InterGlobe. Over the years, he has also developed specialised expertise in certain areas such as information technology, aviation and infrastructure.


Owned by the Wadia Group, GoAir launched its operations in 2005. The airline currently operates across 22 destinations, offering 150 plus daily flights. Its current fleet size is of 13 aircraft and it recently placed orders for 72 Airbus A320neo aircraft for US$6.6 billion and the first A320neo is expected to start flying from December 2016. The airline’s market share is one of the smallest at 6.4 per cent and much lower than the likes of IndiGo and SpiceJet. The carrier is planning to double its fleet size in the next 24 months to be able to satisfy the market. It has been clocking seat factors of around 80 per cent consistently.

Giorgio De Roni is the CEO at Go Air India. Prior to this, he was the Chief Revenue Officer at Air One SpA. He shaped the growth of Italian carrier Air One in his 10-year stint. His responsibilities included sales and marketing, fleet and network planning, revenue management and alliances.

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