Feb 23 (NDTV) – Jalan Kalrock consortium, the promoters of Jet Airways, have appointed Vipula Gunatilleka as the chief financial officer (CFO) of the airline. He has been tasked with reviving the grounded carrier.
Mr Gunatilleka, who till last month, was the CEO of SriLankan Airlines, will join Jet Airways from March 1, 2022 onwards.
Considered as a “turnaround specialist” and an aviation expert, Mr Gunatilleka had overseen “the most daunting task of leading SriLankan Airlines during the pandemic. Mr Gunatilleka was head hunted by the board in 2018 to re-structure SriLankan Airlines and in less than two years after assuming the duties as the CEO, the airline recorded positive EBITDA and cash flow for 2019-20 notwithstanding the devastating effects of the terror attacks in April 2019 in Sri Lanka followed by the global pandemic in early 2020,” a statement issued by Jet Airways said.
As a result of key initiatives introduced to improve the service standards and operational efficiencies, the (SriLankan) airline was accredited with the “World’s Most Punctual Airline” twice in 2019, the statement further added.
Prior to joining SriLankan Airlines, Mr Gunatilleka was the CFO and board member of TAAG Angola Airlines from November 2015 to July 2018 under Emirates Management. He played a pivotal role to turnaround the loss-making national carrier of Angola.
Ankit Jalan, member of the monitoring committee of Jet Airways and part of Jalan-Kalrock Consortium said, “We are excited to welcome Mr Vipula Gunatilleka to our young and energic team . Vipula is an aviation expert and regarded as a turnaround specialist in the industry. He has been shortlisted after a rigorous process run by our executive team over the last several months. I am certain Vipula will be an asset to the organization and will provide the necessary vision to revive the operations of Jet Airways as per the plans of the consortium.”
Mr Gunatilleka is known for his astute knowledge in aircraft financing, strategic planning, cost-efficient business modelling and openness to adopt hybrid models to keep business costs low and efficiency high.
Speaking on his plans for Jet Airways, he said, “I am very excited to join the company and I look forward to contributing my knowledge of last 30 years in Jet Airways’ resurgence in its new avatar. We will capitalise on the strong brand value which Jet Airways has in the market and use it to re-build the lost ground.”
Mr Gunatilleka first joined SriLankan Airlines as its CFO in 2001, when it was part of the Emirates Group and was establishing its feet in the Indo-Pacific Sub-Continent. “Having spent sufficient time in leadership roles in the aviation industry including as CEO of SriLankan Airlines until January 2022, I am aware of the responsibility that lingers on the shoulders of the leadership team, especially the CFO and I am confident Jet Airways will soon regain its lost glory,” he added further.