Rahul Bhatia: Flag Bearer of the Indian Aviation Industry

Sarika Anand Sarika Anand
Apr 11, 2023 6 min read
Rahul Bhatia: Flag Bearer of the Indian Aviation Industry

IndiGo is frequently regarded as the flag bearer of the Indian aviation industry, having established norms for reliability, profitability, efficiency, and continuous expansion over the years. The airline is renowned for its good on-time performances and short turnaround period, which results in more efficient aircraft usage for optimum profit making.

IndiGo, with a simple philosophy of offering affordable rates, on-time flights, and a pleasant, sanitary, and hassle-free travel experience, is one of the fastest-growing economic carriers in the world. The airline operates over 1,700 flights daily and connects 77 domestic and 26 foreign destinations with its fleet of more than 300 aircraft.

Rahul Bhatia, IndiGo's co-founder, and Managing Director hold total authority over India's leading domestic airline. IndiGo Airlines commenced its operations on August 4, 2006, and held its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in October 2015. In 2022, Rahul, along with his father Kapil Bhatia, was listed at number 38 on the Forbes list of the richest Indians, with a net worth of $4.9 billion.

Read this article further, to learn about the journey of Rahul Bhatia, his biography, starting from his early life, his education, his current state, and much more.

Rahul Bhatia - Biography

Name Rahul Bhatia
Born 1960
Nationality India
Education University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada
Position Promoter and MD of IndiGo, Group MD of InterGlobe Enterprises

Rahul Bhatia - Early Life and Education
Rahul Bhatia - Family
Rahul Bhatia - Career
Rahul Bhatia - Investments
Rahul Bhatia - Partnership With Gangwal
Rahul Bhatia - IndiGo, The Dream Project
Rahul Bhatia - Awards and Achievements

Rahul Bhatia - Early Life and Education

Rahul Bhatia was born in the year 1960. He earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

Rahul had plans to set up a telecom venture with Nortel for digital telephone exchanges upon returning to India in 1984. However, due to unfavorable government policies towards foreign technology at the time, his plans did not materialize. Instead, he was drawn into a teaching career but had to reconsider when his ailing father enlisted his help with the family business. Emotionally driven, Rahul Bhatia joined the family business in 1988 and named it InterGlobe.

Rahul Bhatia - Family

Kapil Bhatia, Rahul Bhatia's father, is the Executive Chairman of InterGlobe Enterprises and a director in twelve Indian companies in various industries such as real estate and renting, finance, hotels and restaurants, supporting and auxiliary transport activities, transport and storage, travel agency activities, business services, and so on.

Kapil Bhatia began his career in the travel sector at a young age as the Sales Manager of an IATA agency. Kapil Bhatia founded Delhi Express Travels in 1964, which grew into a network of travel-related businesses. For over 25 years, Kapil Bhatia served as the Managing Director of Delhi Express Travels. InterGlobe Enterprises grew from a single firm to a tremendously successful conglomerate thanks to Rahul Bhatia's father's vision and capable management, according to Rahul Bhatia. Kapil also served on the Board of Directors of Andhra Bank Ltd. and Punjab National Bank and has served as the Chairman of the Tourism and Aviation Committee of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.

Rahul Bhatia is married to Rohini Bhatia, philanthropic arm and the chairperson of InterGlobe Foundation.

InterGlobe Foundation and IndiGo's CSR have done some outstanding work in the sectors of community outreach, historical revitalization, and environmental preservation under her direction.

Rahul Bhatia - Career

As a student, Rahul Bhatia worked at IBM for two years, participating in a pilot project to build an entirely automated screen production factory, which was under the IT sector.

Travel and transportation, according to Rahul Bhatia, was not his primary career choice. His father, Kapil Bhatia, used to manage a travel service called Delhi Express, which went bankrupt while Rahul Bhatia was in Canada. Rahul Bhatia returned to India in 1984 after receiving an electrical engineering degree from the University of Waterloo in Canada, where he planned to develop a telecommunication venture with Nortel to make digital telephone exchanges, but his plan failed because the then-Indian government did not favor external resources.

Rahul once said that after his plan to establish a telecom venture in India was rejected, he was pulled back to a teaching career; nevertheless, on the advice of his ailing father to reevaluate his choice, he opted to join the family business, InterGlobe, in 1998. He sought new opportunities and grabbed them. In no time he expanded into other industries, including a variety of travel and hospitality-related ventures.

InterGlobe Enterprises is a privately held corporation that, in addition to the airline, owns transportation organizations, a chain of hotels in partnership with AccorHotels, and three restaurants in Gurugram, and Haryana. Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal co-founded IndiGo, which began operations in August 2006. Rahul Bhatia now serves as IndiGo's Promoter and Managing Director and InterGlobe Enterprises' Group managing director.

Rahul Bhatia - Investments

Date Organization Name Round Amount Raised
May 4, 2013 Murmur App Seed Round -

Indian Civil Aviation Industry - Who Leads the Market?
The Indian Civil Aviation Industry has received strong backing from the government and is increasingly emerging as a fast-growing sector.

Rahul Bhatia - Partnership With Gangwal

In the United States, Rahul Bhatia met Rakesh Gangwal, an experienced airline executive, and their blossoming relationship laid the groundwork for Bhatia's next venture, IndiGo Airlines. According to old colleagues, Bhatia would frequently speak about his goal of launching an airline called IndiGo but, Rakesh Gangwal was doubtful. Bhatia had to wait until Gangwal decided to cooperate with him. Rakesh was apprehensive, according to Bhatia, because of the business's high death rate. But Rahul was a determined individual.

Bhatia attributes IndiGo's success equally to Gangwal. Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal had a major squabble shortly after signing the shareholders' agreement on April 23, 2015. The agreement was revised on September 17, 2015. In July 2018, Gangwal resigned from an advising role in aircraft and engine purchase, and he raised concerns with Bhatia about problems such as anomalous shareholder rights. On July 8, 2019, Gangwal requested assistance from the SEBI, PMO, and FinMin. Rahul Bhatia made an arbitration request against Gangwal at the London Court of International Arbitration on October 1, 2019, citing a violation of the stockholders' contract.

On August 27, 2019, agreements were passed to settle concerns following two meetings of the board and multiple debates. Rahul Bhatia took over as the Managing Director of IndiGo on February 4, 2022, and on February 18, 2022, Gangwal resigned as a director of the airline's parent company, InterGlobe Aviation, and stated that he would progressively lower his interests in the following five years. After resigning, Gangwal stated that he had been a long-term stakeholder in the firm for more than fifteen years and that it is reasonable to consider diversifying one's stakes at some point.

Rahul Bhatia - IndiGo, The Dream Project

IndiGo Logo
IndiGo Logo

Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal co-founded IndiGo Airlines as a privately owned company in 2006. InterGlobe owned 51.12% of IndiGo, while Gangwal's Virginia-based Caelum Investments owned 47.88%. Though IndiGo was granted an airline license in 2004, it did not begin operations until 2006. IndiGo made an order for 100 Airbus A320-200 aircraft in June 2005, and the first aircraft arrived on July 28, 2006. Then IndiGo scheduled and operated a flight from New Delhi to Imphal via Guwahati on August 4, 2006.

IndiGo has evolved from a single-plane carrier in August 2006 to a fleet of over 300 airplanes as of 2022. IndiGo Airlines, with a market share of 55.9%, is considered India's largest passenger airline. As a low-cost carrier, the airline primarily serves India's domestic air travel market, where it is noted for offering inexpensive tickets, being on time, and providing a pleasant and hassle-free service.

Rahul Bhatia - Awards and Achievements

Rahul Bhatia was named 'Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 by Ernst & Young and The Economic Times. Bhatia got the 'Outstanding Start-Up' award at the Forbes India Leadership Awards the same year. Rahul Bhatia was also included in Forbes' Global Game Changers List in 2016.


Who is Rahul Bhatia?

Rahul Bhatia is the co-founder of IndiGo and now serves as the Managing Director of IndiGo and Group Managing Director of InterGlobe Enterprises.

Who founded IndiGo?

Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal co-founded IndiGo Airlines as a privately owned company in 2006.

What is Rahul Bhatia's educational qualification?

Rahul Bhatia earned a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

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