Mittu Chandilya, a Singapore-based consultant of Indian origin, has been appointed as chief executive officer of AirAsia India, the Indian arm of Malaysia’s low-cost carrier AirAsia. The announcement was made on Wednesday by Group CEO Tony Fernandes on a social media website.
“I am pleased to announce the board of AirAsia India has appointed Mittu Chandilya as CEO of AirAsia India,” Fernandes tweeted.
Chandilya’s previous stint was at Egon Zehnder International, an advisory firm with more than 420 consultants spread across 40 countries. It is an executive search firm for areas, including life sciences, consumer goods and chemicals. Chandilya worked as the Head of Services Practices for Asia Pacific in Egon.
Another tweet by Fernandes said, “Mittu is coming home to change Indian travel and make it affordable for all Indians to fly”.
In March this year, the Malaysian budget carrier received the green signal from Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for its proposed domestic budget airline in India, thereby making it the first foreign airline to operate a domestic carrier after the government liberalised the aviation sector last September.
Fernandes had then tweeted about the company appointing a new CEO without providing specific details. “I have selected our CEO for AirAsia India. Very smart boy from the south, Madras. An amazing CV. Will impress all.”
Chandilya’s Indian origin would also make it easier for the AirAsia-Tata Sons joint venture airline to get clearances from the aviation ministry and keeping the regulatory guidelines in compliance, say market experts.
AirAsia was established in 2001 and now has a route network that spans across over 20 countries. AirAsia is a low-cost airline and has associate companies like AirAsia X, Thai AirAsia, Indonesia AirAsia, Philippines’ AirAsia Inc and AirAsia Japan.
Tata Group, which had launched Air India before its nationalisation, is making a comeback to the domestic aviation sector by forming a joint venture with Fernandes-led AirAsia, Asia’s biggest budget carrier, and private investor Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace Pvt. Ltd.
The move comes after the Indian government eased Foreign Direct Investment in airlines in September last year, allowing foreign airlines to pick up to 49 per cent stake.