SpiceJet chairman spices up his life with boxing

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ajay Singh wears many hats but he is probably best known in India as the man who founded the low-cost carrier SpiceJet in 2005. Sold it and successfully revived from near closure in 2014, taking over from the buyer when the company was buried in mountains of debts.

“I did not take over SpiceJet, when it was on the verge of a shutdown two years ago, to become rich. I did that as I had an emotional connect with the employees and the company, which I founded in 2005,” Singh was quoted in the Indian media as saying.

Today, SpiceJet is debt-free and is considered as India’s third largest private airline with about 200 aircraft. Its stock was up 124 percent in 2017 and has gained more than 800 percent since its near-demise in December 2014 with market value of US$1.2 billion.

And Singh is credited for the airline’s dramatic turnaround and expansion overseas.

SpiceJet currently flies 10 times a week to Dubai from several key cities in India. The airline plans to add more flights once India and the UAE sign new bilateral air agreements allowing more slots for Indian carriers to serve the route.

Well exposed and experienced in business even at an early age, Singh was raised in a family that successfully dabbled in real estate and fashion accessories business in India where the majority of the population are women.

His ability to resurrect a company from near death has been noticed early on when he successfully brought to profits the Delhi Transport Corporation in 1996. Back then, the company had only 300 buses and within two years, Singh grew it to 6,000 buses with good revenues.

As a student, Singh was into crickets and hockey, even playing as a captain for his cricket team at St. Columba’s School in New Delhi.

After finishing his engineering degree in New Delhi, he went to the United States where he took up his MBA in Finance at Cornell University.

He initially joined his family’s business before setting his sights in India’s private sector.

The aviation billionaire said he doesn’t have much free time with his many responsibilities at SpiceJet and his other businesses but when he does, he likes to spend it with his family, the simple things in life and his new advocacy—promoting boxing in India.

“I don’t have that much free time,” he told Air Cargo Update in an interview on the sidelines of Aviation Show MENASA held in Dubai where he was among the panelists. “When I do get free time, I watch movies. I listen to music and watch a lot of sports.”

“I have two wonderful daughters and I like to spend time with them. One is studying in the US and the other is just one-year-old,” he added.

As President of the Boxing Federation of India, Singh said he devotes time to promote the sport among Indians saying the country needs to professionalize boxing.

Among his priorities is to provide boxers with the best training, coaches and technical officials as well as improve infrastructure related to the sport.

“We will try to win a lot of medals in boxing in the coming Olympics,” said Singh who is bent on winning no matter what the battle is.