Sanjiv Kapoor, the newly-appointed chief executive of Jet Airways, in a letter to his employees has asked them to work on ‘five foundation blocks’ in the next few months before the re-launch of the airline.
In his letter on May 13, Kapoor said his ‘five foundation blocks’ will focus on securing Air Operator Certificate, buying new aircraft, having robust systems and processes to support operations, securing slots, and building a new team of employees.
Below is the full text. Read on:
It has already been over a month since I joined the team as your CEO, and I wanted to write to you all today to tell you about my impressions-to-date, our immediate, collective priorities, and the kind of organization and airline we want to become.
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At the outset, I want to tell you that I couldn’t be more excited to have joined Jet Airways. It’s an honor for me lead the revival of this world-class airline; a brand that millions of travelers and so many organizations around the world continue to love and respect.
As you may know, I have worked with several other airlines in the last two decades and more, and so I have very closely followed Jet Airways’ journey. I’ve always had an enormous admiration for the airline, its people, and its expertise. My decision to join Jet Airways was driven in great measure by the immense goodwill this brand continues to enjoy, and by the passion and commitment of the JKC Consortium to revive the airline. We all meet people every now and then who have such fond memories of flying Jet Airways, and who keep asking when we are coming back. That’s the goodwill this airline has cultivated and that is the legacy that we – you, me, and everyone here – have been entrusted to carry forward.
I truly believe that we are creating history together, and we are just getting started! As I love saying, this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s going to need all of us to come together, help each other out, back each other, and, above all, reach for the stars.
Broadly, there are 10 guiding principles that we will need to follow to make this happen and to take this airline to its past glory and beyond. I spoke about many of these points in my address to some of you on my first day here, but I want to place it on record for all.
Safety first, always: As an airline, safety is paramount. There will be absolutely no room for short-cuts or compromises on safety. Ever! Nothing more needs to be said on this, this rule can never be violated.
Values and principles guide us, not some rigid rulebook: We will run this company through a mix of common-sense, values, and principles – and not by some ‘rigid’ rulebook. At all levels, people will be empowered to make decisions by values and common-sense; values such as respect, fairness, empathy, transparency, decency, and hard work. We will not look to capitalize on the misfortunes of the people we interact and work with – whether it is our customers or staff. Now I don’t mean there will be no rules or processes or procedures to be followed when operating the airline or handling passengers. I mean this as the foundation of our culture and how we treat each other and others we interact with.
So how do we lead with values and principles? It is by following the “Golden Rule”: Do onto others, as you would have them do onto you. In other words, don’t do something which you wouldn’t like being done with you. To reiterate, do the right thing, be fair, be respectful, and use common sense and empathy as your constant guide. Put yourself in the customers’, candidates’, suppliers, or team members’, or former employees’ shoes and think, how would you like to be handled if in the same situation? How would you feel if you were not treated respectfully or fairly?
A culture based on love (and not fear), passion, and mutual respect: We are in aviation because, within all of us, there exists a child that watched a plane fly across the sky with open-mouthed wonder. Remember why you’re here, remember that sense of wonder – and everything will make sense. We will create a workspace environment that we look forward to coming to every morning. To a workplace where we all treat each other with respect. It doesn’t matter who is placed where in our organization chart - a junior member of the staff or a senior one, a contractor, vendor, or someone from outside of this organization, we treat EVERYONE with respect and courtesy. No exceptions. Respect means also respect other peoples’ time, respond to their emails and requests in a timely manner, follow-up and stick to commitments and timelines.
Open, transparent & regular communication: We will have an open-door policy. Anyone is free to walk in to talk to the senior management representatives if the doors to their cabins are open. We will discuss our thoughts, ideas, and suggestions with each other, whenever we want to. Keep communication channels open, communicate frequently, overcommunicate if required, and be transparent. We honestly don’t have time to indulge in petty things such as gossip, leaks of confidential information, and anonymous letters designed to ruin careers. Such letters will be shredded and thrown away. Accountability is paramount and if there are any wrongdoings, please do report them through the correct channels, in this case, the whistle-blower process that will soon be institutionalized.
While we have been focused on the AOP, aircraft, people, and systems decisions in recent weeks, as we set up our teams and bring on board the remaining HODs, I will also institute weekly meetings where everything is discussed openly and as ONE TEAM! Where we work together rather than in silos. Where we pitch in and support each other rather than say “that’s not my job”. Where we share openly rather than hold information as power. Where we all have a say but realise that eventually there is a certain hierarchy that is in place to make the best decisions after considering all inputs.
Decisions once made, with due consideration and after considering all viewpoints, should not be second-guessed. That is the culture we want to create.
No politics: I know we all have our political views, but let’s keep that outside of the office, please. There’s only one party and one team that matters here: Jet Airways.
No “chalta hai” attitude: This is my biggest bugbear, and something there will be no room for at Jet Airways. “Chalta hai” will not work here, and ‘not possible’ is not an answer. Everything is possible, we just need to know how long it will take and how much it will cost. Focus on the basics and pay attention to the details – the small things make a big difference!
Professional always: We are in the people and customer service business, we just happen to fly planes! Professionalism is sacrosanct here. We will always maintain the highest standard of professionalism, whether it’s in our dealings or in our appearances, at work or outside of work. The same high standards must also reflect in the smallest and biggest of our actions, including acknowledgement of emails (even if you don’t have an answer right away, acknowledge the email and indicate by when you may have the answer), timely responses and follow-ups, sticking to commitments, and ensuring punctuality & due preparedness for meetings, etc.
A focus on output and a bias for action: The results and the output each one of us drives will be the final adjudicator for efforts and contribution, and not face-time. We will not judge on the clock. At the same time, we are a team and to ensure collaboration, we must respect core business hours as well. Output means getting things done, driving things to closure. We must not suffer from the “MAFA syndrome”: Mistaking Articulation for Action. Just saying it, or saying it will get done (“ho jayega”), does not get things done. Execution is key! Take ownership and drive things to closure within defined timelines – and closure means 100% closed, not 90% done – only then will excellence be our benchmark.
A desire to “Think Different” while being customer-driven: Think Different was a path-breaking slogan adopted by Steve Jobs in Apple back in 1984. And by thinking different, they changed the world – multiple times! We too must be driven by the desire to think different. To not just be a copy-paste of other airlines. To not just look in the rear-view mirror and plan the future based on the past, but to change the way business is done in the future! To find new ways to delight customers and create customer advocacy by realising the customer is not an ATM machine to be shaken-down at every opportunity like we sadly see commonly across the industry today, rather the customer is what our business, salaries, and long-term success depend on!
Driven by technology, but with a human touch: I like to say Jet Airways is a people-focused airline for the digital age. We will have the best app, website, and IT systems and services possible. However, we will not give up the human touch – there will always be the option to speak with a human. We are in the people and customer business. Human interaction cannot be fully replaced by technology – it must always be there as a backup, especially when things go wrong (during IROPS, etc).
I am focused on the following five foundation blocks which we will need to work over the next few months, for which we all need to be on top of our game.
AOC – Securing the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) at the earliest is our top priority right now. We will be conducting our proving flight very soon, the last step before AOC. We will completely change gears after AOC and ramp up all of the factors listed below in order to be ready to begin operations in the July – September quarter this year.
People – The Top 3 priorities for any CEO should be to 1. Create the right culture 2. Hire the best people, treat them well, and pay them fairly and on-time 3. Help develop the best strategy. In that order. We are setting ambitious targets for ourselves, and to achieve them, we will build a super-amazing team of talented and passionate people who believe in our story. Our vision for Jet Airways is simple: to build a ‘people-focused airline for the digital age’. We will make the right investments and hire people who are in tune with the culture we are trying to create and with the vision that we have about how to run a better airline. I have been disproportionately focused on people and working with Nakul and team to cast the net wider and hire the very best, as eventually it is the people, the team, that will make the airline.
Aircraft – We’ve already in talks with the major aircraft manufacturers and lessors, studying all options available to us. We want to be fully aware of all available products and the possibilities we can achieve with each of them. We will soon take a call on the kind of aircraft that aligns with our long-term plans, and announce the decision soon after AOC.
Software and Systems – We will build and set up robust systems and processes to support operations on the ground and in the air to ensure we run like clockwork, to make sure we play more than lip-service to the term “digital”, and to ensure we take care of the basic needs and pain-points of all stakeholders consistently and reliably before we aim for fancy stuff.
Consider me a simpleton. Buzzwords like Metaverse, Blockchain, IoT, AI, ML, Big Data, Chat Bots, and What Nots mean nothing to me. What matters is a website that works. An app that is not stuck in a time warp. Error messages that are not gibberish geek-speak. OTPs that are actually delivered. Passwords that can actually be reset. Payments that can actually succeed. CAPTCHAS that can be deciphered. Booking / redemption flows that actually make sense. And humans you can actually speak to.
And similarly for our internal systems and supporting IT infrastructure.
Slots (& other airport infrastructure) – Once we receive the AOC, we will immediately start working on securing slots and pursue our other infrastructural requirements at airports that we will be operating at.
To sum it up, we have made excellent progress so far, thanks to the efforts of ALL of you! But this was just the beginning. Things are going to change into a completely different gear now, and the ride is going to get a lot more intense! We need to create a culture of openness, accountability, teamwork, and excellence, give it our 200% and take ownership of whatever we are entrusted with.
We are together going to create history - for the first time in the history of Indian aviation, an airline is being revived. We must fire on all cylinders and WORK AS ONE TEAM! Let the revived Jet Airways not only match the very high standards of the Jet Airways we all knew and loved, but exceed them!
I know I can count on your support, and I’m looking forward to creating history with all of you. The proving flight is now around the corner, and after that, our AOC!
Thanks, and with warmest regards,Sanjiv.