» Business » IndiGo's new CEO Pieter Elbers takes over, eyes 'new frontiers'

IndiGo's new CEO Pieter Elbers takes over, eyes 'new frontiers'

By Aneesh Phadnis
September 07, 2022 10:59 IST
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The coming years will be among the most exciting of your professional lives, IndiGo’s new chief executive officer (CEO) Pieter Elbers wrote to the airline’s staff after taking charge on Tuesday.

Pieter Elbers IndiGo's new CEO

Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Elbers, who spent three decades at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, replaces Ronojoy Dutta at the top post.

“Earlier, IndiGo communication summarised it all in just three words: ‘Towards new heights’ and-let me add here: ‘across new frontiers’.


"With that vision in mind, you should feel assured that the coming years will be among the most exciting of your professional lives,” Elbers said.

“What IndiGo’s employees and leadership have jointly built since its start is, by any standard, truly remarkable… I look forward to building together with you the next stage of this incredible IndiGo journey,” he wrote.

Aviation sector experts expect IndiGo will focus more on people under Elbers’s leadership. Cost control and international expansion will be other priority areas.

“We believe Pieter Elbers’ appointment will lead to a new beginning at IndiGo.

"We expect a focus on building a stronger, unified, and cohesive organisation.

"We expect him to bring people driven leadership across levels and pursue digitalisation,” said Kapil Kaul, South Asia CEO of aviation consultancy CAPA.

Digitalisation will be crucial for increasing revenue, reducing costs, and improving experience for customers and employees, he added.

At present, IndiGo commands over half of the domestic market share.

With 276 aircraft and over 1,500 daily flights, it is also among the largest airlines in the world.

As of March, IndiGo had over 26,000 employees.

Elbers started his aviation career as an aircraft loading manager at KLM in 1992 and went on to become its CEO in 2014.

He is credited with turning KLM into a financially healthy and innovative airline.

In June, at his farewell, the Dutch king accorded him the title of ‘Commander in the Order of Orange-Nassau’ for his “binding capacity and decisiveness”.

These skills will be put to test as IndiGo faces challenges from a resurgent Air India and new entrant, Akasa Air. Fuel prices and the weakness in rupee remain concerns.

IndiGo registered its highest-ever quarterly revenue of Rs 12,885.3 crore in quarter ended June 30, but still reported a loss of Rs 1,064.3 crore.

The airline is also facing supply chain constraints, which has resulted in delays in the delivery of aircraft and engines. Yet, the airline plans to deploy 13 per cent higher capacity than pre-Covid time in the 2022-23 financial year.

According to aviation consultant Mark Martin, international expansion and connecting diaspora-dense markets with a wide-body fleet will be key for IndiGo. “It will be very important for the new CEO to manage the global expansion programme,” Martin said.

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Aneesh Phadnis in Mumbai
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