Two weeks after quitting Jet Airways, Sanjiv Kapoor has joined the Saudia Group to be a part of the team responsible for transforming the flag carrier Saudia and the creation of Riyadh Air. Kapoor takes over as the advisor to Ibrahim Al-Omar, director general of the group. The Jeddah-based carrier was formerly known as Saudi Arabian Airlines. It has a fleet size of around 150 aircraft; roughly the same size of a combined Air Indian and Vistara.
“I am excited at the opportunity of working with a highly passionate and talented team and being part of what promises to be an exciting journey ahead,” Kapoor said in a tweet.
Kapoor’s appointment is in line with the mega expansion plan of the two Gulf carriers. Former Etihad top boss and aviation veteran Tony Douglas was appointed CEO of Riyadh Air earlier in the year. The airline which is to be launched in about two years has been on a hiring spree with a promise to hire 200,000.
Both the airlines have placed confirmed orders for 78 jetliners from Boeing with further options to buy 43 more, making the deal touch $37 billion at list prices.
Kapoor, a US citizen, was one of the first senior appointees at Jet Airways; joining the airline in April 2022. He was roped in by Jalan Kalrock Consortium (JKC) to revive the airline that ceased operations in 2019. Jet Airways missed multiple target dates of its first flight under the new supposed owners.
Kapoor left Jet Airways two weeks before an NCLT-defined deadline of making payments by JKC to the financial creditors of the erstwhile airline was to get exhausted. The airline’s air operator permit is due to get exhausted later this week.
While JKC’s plans were to start commercial operations starting with the sale of tickets in early November 2022, reluctance by the airline’s creditors to hand over the ownership of the airline to the winning bidder led to an impasse that stretched over several months.
A travel industry veteran, Kapoor’s previous stint in the airline industry was with Vistara where he was the chief strategy and commercial officer. Prior to joining the Tata-SIA airline, Kapoor was the chief operating officer at SpiceJet. He had briefly worked with the luxury hotel chain Oberoi Hotels & Resorts as president. Kapoor is an MBA from Wharton School.