New Delhi: In a top-deck reshuffle that ends months of speculation, AirAsia India today said Amar Abrol will take over the reins of CEO from Mittu Chandilya, who has been at the helm of the no-frills airline since inception nearly three years ago.
The exit of Chandilya, whose contract ends this month, also comes at a time when there are concerns in certain quarters about control and ownership at the airline, a three-way joint venture.
Putting to rest speculation over the continuance of Chandilya at the helm, AirAsia, in a release, announced the appointment of Abrol as his successor.
Abrol, who has over 20 years of experience, was most recently the CEO of Tune Money, a start-up that aims to deliver low-cost financial products in South-East Asia.
To ensure a smooth transition, Chandilya -- who has been with the CEO since June 2013 -- will continue with the carrier till end of April.
AirAsia India has a fleet of six aircraft, covering 12 routes and carrying over 1.8 million passengers.
The carrier, which began operations in June 2014, is a joint venture between Malaysia's AirAsia Berhad, the Tatas and Arun Bhatia's Telestra Tradeplace.
AirAsia India Chairman S Ramadorai said Chandilya led the airline team from the front through its launch and establishment in an intensely competitive market.
"The board deeply appreciates his contribution. In Abrol, we have a strong successor, with years of experience in customer delivery, which will be critical to the airline's future. Together with his senior management team, we are confident that Abrol will lead AirAsia India into its next stage of growth," Ramadorai said.
On Wednesday, AirAsia Berhad Group CEO Tony Fernandes had only said that "his (Chandilya) "contract will be up soon" in response to queries about reports that Chandilya was quitting.
In August 2015, Chandilya was appointed managing director, in addition to the CEO position.
Besides, AirAsia India has announced the appointment of Ankur Khanna as the chief financial officer and Kiran Jain as the head of commercial.
On his appointment, Abrol said, "AirAsia India is poised for strong growth. I look forward to leading the team and together, giving many more Indians the opportunity to access the exciting promise of Indian civil aviation."
Before joining Tune Money in 2013, Abrol spent 19 years with American Express, leading diverse teams across multiple markets, including Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK, India and Malaysia.
Born and raised in India, Abrol graduated from Delhi University and is a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
Khanna will be joining AirAsia India from Air France/KLM, where he recently headed regional finance for the Middle East/Gulf region based in Dubai.
Jain has over 25 years of aviation-related experience covering airports and airlines. Jain most recently headed the Airport Marketing and Route Development function at the Delhi International Airport.
Chandilya said the past three years have been a rewarding and enriching journey for me and AirAsia India.
"I am delighted that AirAsia India is today a customer-preferred airline in sectors that it operates. I will truly miss each member in our young organisation without whose passion and energy none of this would be possible," he said.
In recent months, concerns have been expressed in certain quarters about control at the start-up carrier. In December last year, Bhatia had expressed unhappiness over the state of affairs at the budget carrier, saying decisions are being taken by its Malaysian parent AirAsia.
In October-December 2015, AirAsia India clocked a 134 per cent growth in passenger traffic as it flew over half-a-million customers and operated 3,376 flights compared with 1,444 flights in the same period of 2014.
The carrier is looking for removal of the 5/20 rule, under which only those airlines having at least five years of operational experience and a minimum of 20 planes can fly overseas.