GoAir is seeing another personnel shuffle this week, with Managing Director Jeh Wadia stepping down from his post. The move could signal that GoAir is getting closer to a potential IPO in the coming year, as has long been rumored. Additionally, ex-Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza is joining the airline as Vice Chairman after nearly three years as an advisor.
Wadia takes a back seat
According to the Times of India, Jeh Wadia has stepped down as Managing Director of GoAir after over 15 years at the helm. The Wadia-family-owned airline is making changes to its management structure as it eyes an IPO soon. While IPO’s have been discussed before, this has been the most concrete move towards a listing in recent times.
Founder Jeh Wadia will remain as a promoter, giving him a say in the management of the airline in the future too. However, this isn’t the only major personnel change at the airline this week.
GoAir has also appointed Ben Baldanza as Vice Chairman of the Board. A common name in US aviation, Baldanza served as CEO of Spirit Airline from 2005 to 2016, a period during which it became the major ultra-low-cost-carrier it is today. He is credited with the airline’s turnaround and shaking up the industry with the ULCC model. Prior to Spirit, he also worked at American, Northwest, and Continental Airlines.
In addition to expertise in the low-cost market, Baldanza also brings in critical IPO experience through Spirit’s successful public listing in 2011. He began advising GoAir in 2018 and joined the board of the airline in 2019, making him a familiar face at the carrier.
As Vice Chairman, Baldanza will work directly with recently appointed CEO Kaushik Khona to further transform GoAir into an ultra-low-cost airline. In a statement about the appointment, he said,
“I am excited to be part of GoAir’s next stage of journey. This gives me the opportunity to apply my years of airline experience in the vibrant and fast-growing market of India to create enduring value for all stakeholders.”
This week’s announcement signal two things: GoAir is looking toward an IPO and plans to become India’s first ultra-low-cost-carrier. While India is home to several dominating budget airlines, GoAir could be looking to differentiate itself by offering fewer services and packing in more seats on its A320s. This could give the airline an advantage in the future as the industry slowly recovers.
The coming months will tell us more about GoAir’s plans for 2021, including its path towards a full recovery. For now, keep a close eye on this growing Indian budget carrier.
What do you think about the future of GoAir? Will it succeed as a ULCC? Let us know in the comments below!