Jet Airways 2.0 appoints ex-SriLankan Airlines CEO as chief financial officer
NEW DELHI: Jalan Kalrock Consortium, the successful resolution applicant and newly proposed promoters of Jet Airways, on Tuesday announced the appointment of Vipula Gunatilleka as the chief financial officer (CFO). Gunatilleka, previously the CEO of SriLankan Airlines until January 2022, will be taking charge from March 1.
Before 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 to turn around the loss-making national carrier of Angola.
Speaking on his plans, Vipula Gunatilleka said, “I am very excited to join the company and I look forward to contributing my knowledge of the last 30 years to 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.”
He further said, “I 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.”
Ankit Jalan, member of the monitoring committee of Jet Airways and part of Jalan-Kalrock Consortium, said, “We are excited to welcome Vipula Gunatilleka to our young and energetic 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 organisation and will provide the necessary vision to revive the operations of Jet Airways as per the plans of the Consortium.”
In a statement, the Consortium said that Gunatilleka was appointed in 2018 to restructure 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 coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.
Gunatilleka qualified as a chartered accountant in the year 1987, after which he did his MBA from the University of Colombo. He is also a qualified chartered management accountant (FCMA) from the United Kingdom and a certified public accountant (FCPA) from Australia. He 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.
“As a result of key initiatives introduced to improve the service standards and operational efficiencies, the airline was accredited with the ‘World’s Most Punctual Airline’ twice in 2019,” the statement read.