Jet Airways acting CEO resigns, unhappy with Etihad strategy

Jet Airways can’t seem to get a break in losing its top officials. Ever since Etihad got a green signal to pick up 24% stake in Jet, there has been a steady outflow of senior executives who have been unhappy with the way Etihad has been driving things at Jet and trying to use it as a feeder to bring foreign bound Indian traffic. The latest to leave is the acting CEO Ravishankar Gopalakrishnan thereby becoming the fifth senior executive at the airline to quit since last year. Gopalakrishnan had become the acting CEO on 16th January after Gary Kenneth Toomey quit within seven months of taking up the place. Other notable high-profile exists have been of K.G.Vishwanath, vice-president (commercial strategy and investor relations), and Sudheer Raghavan, chief commercial officer.

Etihad’s 24% stake acquisition was always meant to be way of tapping into India’s growing international traffic and using that to drive traffic at the Abu Dhabi hub. This strategy has played out very well for when of other acquisitions which have helped Etihad gain strong foothold in the local markets. Be it in the case of Air Seychelles, Air Berlin or Virgin Australia and many other names that it acquired as part of its stake acquisition spree. All of them have played a strong role in boosting traffic on the Etihad network and help expand its regional presence. Another big win has been in terms of securing local flying rights given the strong reservation to allowing Gulf carriers, this strategy has helped Etihad use the local carrier to fly on routes which would not have been possible by flying under its own name.

Whatever the reason maybe such a rapid exit of senior executives does not bode well for Jet as it is already bleeding cash and its service levels and morale is definitely going to get further effected by all this. What is needed now is a strong push to rejig its network and make the best use of both its domestic and international operations to return to profitability at the earliest.

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