Vistara to get new CEO in October 2017

Vistara, the latest full service carrier in Indian Aviation, is set for a management change at the top. The airline, which is formed as a Joint Venture between Tata Sons & Singapore Airlines to operate out of India took life in October 2014, and appointed Phee Teik Yeoh to lead the venture as CEO. Vistara initially worked on a structure where both the No. 1 and No. 2 person were recruited from Singapore Airlines. However, this changed with the appointment of ex-SpiceJet CCO Sanjiv Kapoor to the position of CSCO Vistara.

During the tenure of Phee Teik, as he is commonly referred to, he had set up the operations of the flight leading up to the first flight. Of course it isn’t easy coming from nowhere and lots of naysayers to bring together a new airline and position it at the premium end of the market while the rest of the market resorts to cost cutting. While his plan to get a lot of people (24 per flight) to fly business class did not exactly work out, the airline has been honest about making course corrections as they evolve, and in the current scenario, has a good recollection in the minds of fliers, both new and frequent. So kudos to him and the team for having established that track record.

While Vistara had already extended the tenure of Mr. Yeoh, he will be now heading back to Singapore for rejoining Singapore Airlines in another senior position. And the ex-CEO of SilkAir will take over the position effective October 2017. The board of Vistara cleared the name of Leslie Thng who would be the new CEO of Vistara from October 2017. He will have his task cut out, of course, given that Vistara is on track to start international operations in a short period of time, about a year from now.

The battle is going to be uphill from here, given that the Indian aviation will see a few shakeups in the coming days, including the sale of Air India, where Tatas are interested, and Vistara’s own international plans which have caught the fancy of everyone who expects a plush wide-body service on day 1 of Vistara going abroad. I do hope they are up for the challenge and will scale up well on the job ahead. And I also hope they would be able to break out of the Delhi hub and make one in Mumbai as well!

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