Vipula Gunatilleka, former CEO of Sri Lankan Airlines, appointed as Jet Airways’ CFO

Jalan Kalrock Consortium, the new proposed promoters of Jet Airways, has appointed Vipula Gunatilleka as the Chief Financial Officer for the revival of the airline, the consortium said on Tuesday, February 22.

Gunatilleka, who was the CEO of SriLankan Airlines until January 2022, will take charge as Jet Airways CFO from March 1, 2022.

“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.”

Ankit Jalan, Member of Monitoring Committee, Jet Airways (Jalan-Kalrock Consortium)

Gunatilleka said he looks forward to contributing his knowledge of the last 30 years in Jet Airways’ resurgence in its new avatar.

He added that having spent sufficient time in leadership roles in the aviation industry, including as CEO of SriLankan Airlines, he is aware of the responsibility on the shoulders of the leadership team and is confident that Jet Airways will soon “regain its lost glory.”

“I am very excited to join the company and I look forward to contributing my knowledge of the 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 rebuild the lost ground.

We will capitalize on the strong brand value which Jet Airways has in the market and use it to rebuild the lost ground.”

Vipula Gunatilleka, CFO, Jet Airways

Gunatilleka was headhunted 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/Cash Flow for the Fiscal Year 2019/20 notwithstanding the devastating effects of the terror attacks in April 2019 in Sri Lanka followed by the global pandemic in early 2020,” according to the statement.

Who is Vipula Gunatilleka?

Mr Gunatilleka qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the year 1987 after which he did his MBA from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He is also a qualified Chartered Management Accountant (FCMA) from UK and Certified Public Accountant (FCPA) from Australia.

Mr Gunatilleka first joined Sri Lankan Airlines as its CFO in 2001

Mr Gunatilleka is known for his astute knowledge in aircraft financing, strategic planning, cost-efficient business modelling and openness to adopting hybrid models to keep business costs low and efficiency high.

Born in Kandy, a city in central Sri Lanka, Mr Gunatilleka moved to the west coast to obtain a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colombo, before becoming a chartered accountant. His career has spanned several locations – among them Singapore, Australia, Angola and Sri Lanka.

While at General Electric, he was trained in Six Sigma, a rigorous technique that aims to deliver near-perfect products and services.

Mr Gunatilleka first joined Sri Lankan 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.

He will take charge as Jet Airways CFO from March 1, 2022.

Before joining SriLankan Airlines, 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 in the turnaround of the loss-making national carrier of Angola.

Jet Airways 2.0

Jet Airways underwent the corporate insolvency resolution process under the Indian Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code from 20 June 2019 until 22 June 2021 and as per orders of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

The resolution plan for the airline was submitted by the Jalan Kalrock Consortium was approved. As per the approved plan, the Jalan Kalrock Consortium will be the new promoters of the airline.

Jet Airways plans to resume operations in the first quarter of 2022 after being grounded for 3 years

Jet Airways has been hiring for different roles as the airline gears up for resuming operations under its new owners. The launch date has been postponed multiple times due to several issues including getting its slots at major airports back.

Jet Airways plans to resume operations in the first quarter of 2022 after being grounded for nearly three years. It is planning to add over 50 aircraft to its fleet over the next three years and more than 100 for more than five years.

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