The new proposed promoter of the grounded-full-service carrier Jet Airways, Jalan Kalrock Consortium has announced the appointment of Vipula Gunatilleka as the new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the airline. The former SriLankan Airlines CEO will assume responsibilities from March 1, 2022.
Gunatilleka served as the CEO of SriLankan Airlines until January 2022 when he led the island nation’s national carrier throughout the pandemic. Gunatilleka was appointed by SriLankan to restructure the airline and in less than two years after assuming the duties as the CEO, it recorded positive EBITDA/Cash Flow for the fiscal year 2019-20. Prior to joining SriLankan Airlines, he was the CFO & Board Member of TAAG Angola Airlines from November 2015 to July 2018 under Emirates Management. Gunatilleka played a pivotal role to turn around the loss-making national carrier of Angola.
Gunatilleka qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the year 1987 after which he did his MBA from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, is also a qualified Chartered Management Accountant (FCMA) from UK and 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 adopting hybrid models to keep business costs low and efficiency high.
The Jalan Kalrock Consortium, who won the resolution bid to revive the loss-making airline, which ceased operations in June 2019 plans to start domestic operations in the latter half of this year. Commenting on the development, 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 energic team. Vipula is an aviation expert and is 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.”
Speaking on his plans, Gunatilleka 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 that Jet Airways has in the market and use it to rebuild the lost ground. 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.”