Etihad Airways may have officially acquired a 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways on Wednesday but the UAE-based airline has been making key changes in the management and operations of Jet Airways for the past several months .
In the seven month period when regulatory authorities evaluated Jet Airways’ proposal to sell minority stake to Etihad, key management changes were made at Jet Airways at the behest of Etihad. Several senior executives of the Indian carrier quit to make way for nominees of Etihad. Jet Airways did not respond to an email on this matter from The Hindu.
The last of the top executives of Jet Airways to quit the airline will be Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Sudheer Raghavan, who will be leaving the airline by November end. He had joined Jet in 2007 and was one of the prominent faces at the airline.
“This is my last two weeks at Jet Airways. I will move back to Singapore and will do something,” Mr. Raghavan told The Hindu.
Another senior Jet Airways official, K. G. Vishwanath, Vice President (Commercial Strategy and Investors Relations), had earlier put in his papers with no valid reason regarding his abrupt exit. He was one of the blue eyed boys of Jet’s chairman Naresh Goyal and was involved in the negotiation during stake sale talks.
As the deal was announced in April 2013, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nikos Kardassis was on leave. In June, Jet announced his resignation. He first worked in the airline in 1994 and was CEO of the airline twice.
According to insiders, top officials are being asked to take up lower-ranking jobs, thus virtually forcing them to quit. Some officials have also been re-designated.
Peeved by the clout of Etihad at Jet despite it having a minority holding, a Jet Airways official said, “ Even if someone buys one room in your house, he effectively controls the whole house as the owner is in need of money. This has exactly happened here.”
On Wednesday, Jet announced two board positions for Etihad’s nominees and said the strategic alliance between the airlines had taken off with immediate effect.