Chennai man Mittu Chandilya is AirAsia India chief executive

Mumbai, May 15 (IANS) AirAsia India Wednesday appointed Singapore-based management consultant Mittu Chandilya as its chief executive officer (CEO), who promised to “revolutionise” the air travel industry in the country.

“I am pleased to announce the board of AirAsia India has appointed Mittu Chandilya as CEO of AirAsia India,” tweeted Tony Fernandes, Air Asia’s Indian-origin founder and chief executive, after the AirAsia Group board formally approved Chandilya’s appointment.

“Mittu is coming home to change Indian travel and make it affordable for all Indians to fly,” Fernandes said.

Added Chandilya: “I am a native of Chennai, and I am excited about returning to India to revolutionise the air travel industry there.”

He will assume office next month.

Fernandes, in a statement, described Chandilya as an “outstanding young man with great entrepreneurial skills”, who is “very passionate” about the LCC (Low Cost Carrier) business and “possesses the crucial understanding on how our business model works.”

“India is an important market for us,” said Fernandes, adding that a CEO of Mittu’s stature and business acumen would definitely help in attaining significant market share and achieving rapid growth in India.

Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons Ratan Tata, too, complimented Chandilya and hoped his entry into the company will help the airline grow.

“I am confident that Mittu will provide the leadership and bring to bear his entrepreneurial skills in successfully growing this new airline,” Tata said.

Chandilya, 32, was earlier head of services practices at consulting firm Egon Zehnder International based out of Singapore from October 2009.

Chandilya, who grew up in India, Africa and the US, holds a bachelor of science degree in business and economics from Lehigh University, USA.

He also holds a master of business administration (MBA) from the prestigious graduate business school INSEAD in France and from Tsinghua University, Beijing.

The government March 26, 2013 approved AirAsia’s proposal to set up a new airline in the Indian civil aviation sector with partners Tata Group and Arun Bhatia-promoted Telestra Tradeplace.

The initial investment approved for the airline stands at Rs.80.98 crore. The approval allows the budget carrier to roll out the seventh scheduled domestic carrier in the Indian skies.

The appointment of Chandilya fulfills a key condition for getting permission for starting operations from the home and civil aviation ministries.

In its proposal, AirAsia said it intended to hold 49 percent stake in the JV. While Tata Sons will hold a 30 percent stake and Telestra Tradeplace 21 percent.

Incidentally, India’s first carrier was Tata Airlines, which took flight in 1932. In 1953, it was nationalised and renamed Air India.

The other JV partner, Arun Bhatia, runs aviation parts manufacturing company Hindustan Aerosystems in New Delhi.

The LCC will operate from Chennai and focus on providing connectivity to smaller cities with a small fleet initially. It plans to start operations by the end of this year.

The approval follows a change in foreign capital investment in Indian domestic aviation sector with the government last year allowing foreign airlines to invest up to 49 percent in private domestic carriers.

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