GoAir Managing Director Jeh Wadia Steps Down, Will Continue As Promoter
The livery of an aircraft operated by Go Airlines (India) Ltd. is seen on the tail fin as the plane prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

GoAir Managing Director Jeh Wadia Steps Down, Will Continue As Promoter

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Wadia group-owned no-frills airline GoAir on Monday said that its managing director Jeh Wadia has stepped down from the position.

The airline, however, said that Wadia will continue as a promoter.

The airline also announced the appointment of aviation industry veteran Ben Baldanz as the vice chairman at a time when the company is reportedly looking to raise capital from public investors.

Baldanz has been an advisor to the company since 2018 and director since 2019.

"With the goal of taking GoAir to its next phase of growth, the promoters of the company and its board came together to formulate a long-term plan.

"Amongst other initiatives, a key element of this plan, forged over weeks of discussions and consultation, was to further strengthen the management of the company by bringing on-board proven industry professionals, a strategy that has worked well for the group in its other ventures including Britannia," GoAir said.

Implementation of this plan commenced with the appointment ofBaldanza as vice chairman while Jeh Wadia, part of the promoter family, has stepped down from his position of managing director, it said.

Baldanza as vice chairman will now work directly with the management team, comprising Kaushik Khona, chief executive officer, and Pankaj Chaturvedi, chief financial officer, in the next growth phase of GoAir into making it India's first ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC), the airline said.

"We are happy that Ben has accepted the position of vice chairman. His experience in creating the first ULCC in the US, turning it profitable and successfully leading its IPO are of great value, as GoAir embarks on the next phase of its growth journey, said Nusli Wadia, Chairman, GoAir.

Baldanza is an airline industry veteran of several decades, having worked in American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Continental Airlines among others, before becoming the CEO of Spirit Airlines in 2006.

He successfully repositioned Spirit Airlines into the first ULCC in the North Americas and increased its fleet from 32 to 100, Go Air said in the statement, adding as a result of his efforts, Spirit Airline achieved the highest profitability among all Airlines in the U.S. between 2008 and2015.

He also took the company public by successfully leading its IPO in 2011, it 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," Baldanza said on his appointment to the new position in GoAir.

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