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Leading India airline taps KLM boss as first foreign CEO

Indian airline IndiGo said on Wednesday it has appointed Dutch flag carrier KLM’s Pieter Elbers as its first foreign chief executive. Elbers, 52, has served as President and CEO at KLM since 2014, guiding it through the Covid-19 pandemic and overseeing multiple restructuring efforts at the Dutch arm of Air France-KLM. Low-cost carrier IndiGo is India’s biggest airline for internal flights. Air India, which this month also appointed its first foreign chief executive in Campbell Wilson, carries more passengers overall with more foreign flights. The country of 1.4 billion people was the world’s fastest-growing air passenger market before the pandemic and is set to be the world’s third-largest aviation market by 2024. “What IndiGo’s employees and leadership have jointly built, since its start 16 years ago, is, by any standard, truly impressive,” Elbers said in a statement. The Dutch national was due to step down from his post at KLM in May 2023, but IndiGo said Elbers will take over on October 1, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals. Elbers will succeed Ronojoy Dutta as chief executive officer of IndiGo when the 71-year-old retires later this year. “India promises to be the last bastion of ginormous growth globally and given Mr. Elbers’ deep understanding of the business… IndiGo will play a pivotal role in this growth opportunity,” billionaire owner Rahul Bhatia said. IndiGo held 54.8 percent of the domestic market in March, flying 5.86 million passengers, air traffic data from India’s aviation regulator shows. With a fleet of 275 aircraft, IndiGo operates 1,600 daily flights to 75 destinations in India and 25 internationally, the company said. Shares in InterGlobe Aviation (IndiGo) closed 0.80 percent higher in Mumbai ahead of the announcement.

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