Asia Pacific Airline Executive Of The Year: SpiceJet India
This is awarded to the airline executive who has had the greatest individual influence on the aviation industry, demonstrating outstanding strategic thinking and innovative direction for the growth of their business and the industry.
SpiceJet, Chairman and Managing Director, Ajay Singh was selected for his significant and innovative contributions to Indian aviation as a pioneer of the country’s LCC sector.
India‘s third largest airline overall by fleet and 2019 seat count, SpiceJet is the second largest LCC and second largest domestic airline. Annual passenger numbers and revenues grew almost five times from 2008 to 2018. Its 2019 seat count is up by 28%.
Its business is primarily domestic, but its international network has grown over the current decade to embrace 10 destinations, the most recent being Riyadh, launched in Aug-2019.
SpiceJet operates a fleet of 69 Boeing narrowbodies and 32 Bombardier Q400s, as India‘s only operator of this turboprop family. In Sep-2018, it launched SpiceXpress, its air cargo division operating dedicated freighters.
SpiceJet reported three successive years of net profit between FY2016 and FY2018 in the notoriously competitive Indian market where few airlines have achieved positive results in recent years. Indeed, these results followed successive losses that had taken SpiceJet to the brink of collapse during a period when Mr Singh was not leading the airline.
SpiceJet slipped into loss in the year to Mar-2019 as a result of higher fuel costs and INR depreciation, but returned to profit with its best ever quarterly result in the first quarter of FY2020, in spite of the grounding of 13 Boeing 737MAX-8s and delays to further deliveries.
It compensated for the MAX groundings with an increase in utilisation for its existing Boeing and Q400 aircraft while also adding 32 aircraft to the fleet between Apr-2019 and Jun-2019 in order to take advantage of the gap left by Jet Airways. This demonstrated the robustness of its business model and operational skills.
CAPA Chairman Emeritus Peter Harbison said: “Ajay Singh has been one of the most effective pioneers of India‘s low cost airline segment since the establishment of SpiceJet 15 years ago. Since Mr Singh’s resumption of management and majority control in 2015, SpiceJet has achieved a strong turnaround from a near financial collapse. Under Mr Singh’s leadership, SpiceJet has adapted the business model to take initiatives not always associated with LCCs, for example operating a turboprop fleet alongside its Boeing737s, launching a cargo subsidiary, joining IATA and signing an MoU with Emirates over future codeshares.”
SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said: “I am truly honoured to receive this prestigious award, which is a recognition of SpiceJet’s spectacular comeback and remarkable performance. Leading SpiceJet from a near shutdown to being one of the finest airlines in India, has been the best experience of my life. This award belongs to every SpiceJetter who has worked relentlessly to resurrecting a dying company and building a globally admired airline that the world today speaks of with admiration and awe.”