Aloke Singh takes over as CEO of Air India Express amid challenging times

The aviation veteran's task is cut out in a year that saw the airline suffer twin challenges in COVID-19 and the Kozhikode crash.

November 09, 2020 / 06:10 PM IST

Aloke Singh, the new chief executive officer of Air India Express, takes over the reins of the low-cost arm of Air India even as the government looks for a new owner for both the carriers.

While the success of the disinvestment is very much in the hands of the government, in Singh - who formally took over at the headquarters in Kochi on November 9 -  the airline has now got a veteran who can further expand its wings. And that is because while Air India incurred a loss of Rs 4,600 crore in the last financial year, Air India Express returned its highest-ever net profit, at Rs 412 crore.

Though it will be an uphill task to match the numbers in the present financial year that has been disrupted by COVID-19, Singh will surely dip into his experience to further expand Air India Express' network.

"He is a veteran in network planning and revenue management, an expertise that helped him climb the ladders in Air India," said a senior executive from the industry who didn't want to be named.

Aloke Pandey

Close

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more
Show

Singh is a 25-year veteran of Air India, and that experience includes his stint in Indian Airlines. He left Air India in 2014 to join Oman Air, where he was Chief Officer Network Planning. Singh returned to India in 2016 to co-found OpenSky Resorts, and later joined aviation consultancy firm CAPA.

He now joins Air India Express on a three-year contract.

"Singh is known to have coined the term metro shuttle in 1999. Under this, he created a corridor of a few hours, both in the morning and evening, under which hourly departures were done from Mumbai and Delhi. He was among the first to spot the opportunity," said the executive quoted above.

A trying year

If the COVID-19 impact was not enough, an Air India Express flight was involved in the tragic crash in Kozhikode in August this year. Its investigation continues.

The airline, which operates short-haul international flights from India, though has made the most of the Vande Bharat Mission repatriation flights to the Middle East, its biggest market. The airline, which has an all Boeing 737 fleet, largely operates from Kerala.

Not surprisingly, in his first communication to employees, Singh acknowledged the "challenging time for the industry and the airline." At the same time, giving comfort will be the airline's stellar performance. It has been reporting a net profit for five consecutive years.

That's a ripe cultivating ground for someone who excels in discovering newer ways to expand network.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Nov 9, 2020 06:08 pm

stay updated

Get Daily News on your Browser
Sections
ISO 27001 - BSI Assurance Mark