IndiGo Appoints Ex-KLM CEO Pieter Elbers as New CEO

An IndiGo Airbus on the taxiway.
Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – IndiGo has appointed a new CEO after they have announced the departure of their old CEO, Ronojoy Dutta.

The new CEO will be the current CEO of KLM, Pieter Elbers, as of October 1, 2022. Pieter Elbers will retire from KLM after July 1st.

Pieter Elbers

Pieter Elbers has been CEO of KLM and part of the Executive Committee of AF-KLM since 2014 while having worked actively within the company in the years prior.

He has lifted KLM and made itself a strong player within the Indian market under his rule.

“We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Pieter Elbers as the Chief Executive Officer of the company. India promises to be the last bastion of enormous growth globally and given Elbers’ deep understanding of the business, his legendary leadership qualities coupled with his energy and passion, we are ever so confident that under his stewardship, IndiGo will play a pivotal role in this growth opportunity,” said Rahul Bhatia, Managing Director and co-promoter of IndiGo.

“The Board of Directors and I would like to thank Rono for effectively leading our business for almost four years with a steady hand through what has been the most turbulent period in the airline’s history and aviation globally,” he said on Dutta’s exit from the airline.

Elbers has been seen by the CEO of the AF-KLM Group Benjamin Smith as a big thorn in his plans.

Smith wants to reform KLM to improve relations between Air France and KLM, and Elbers has been seen as a hindrance. Smith hopes to have an improved relationship with their new nominee, Marjan Rintel, who comes from the Dutch railway, NS.

The future

IndiGo has just made a deal with KLM to codeshare both airlines’ flights, both within India, which gives KLM huge leverage in the local market and outside India, to Europe and the rest of the world, which offers great connectivity for both airlines.

“What IndiGo’s employees and leadership have jointly built, since its start 16 years ago, is, by any standard, truly impressive. I am very honored and look forward to building upon this, working together with the entire IndiGo team.

“I am delighted to become a part of the next stage of IndiGo’s incredible journey, further fulfilling the vision of what the airline can do and will be for its customers and for India,” Elbers said.

The timing of the new appointment also comes at an interesting time, as the TATA Group has appointed their new CEO for Air India, hoping to be more competitive in the market.

This means that IndiGo would have to search for a new strategy, a more competitive one. Elbers is a great candidate for IndiGo as KLM had to be competitive, being a full-service carrier.

IndiGo currently has a 55% market share in India, and with the privatization of Air India, it will be an interesting fight between 2 different airlines which is operating in the same market with a distinctively different business model.

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