Born on July 29, 1949, in Sangrur (Punjab), Naresh Goyal stands as the Founder and Chairman of Jet Airways, India’s leading international airline, currently valued at $3.2 Billion.
Boasting a formidable 40-year career in the Civil Aviation industry, Naresh Goyal, at the peak of his career in 2005, held the prestigious rank of the 16th richest Indian. His life story is a compelling journey from humble beginnings to extraordinary success, often described as a “rags to riches” tale or, as some would put it, “from the streets to the sky.”
Facing financial adversity from an early age, Naresh’s family auctioned their possessions when he was just 12 years old, reaching a point where they had no money or home. This challenging period fueled his determination, and he transformed his life to become the Founder and Chairman of India’s premier airline.
Naresh Goyal’s accomplishments include receiving the Amity Leadership Award for Business Excellence (2012), the Hall of Fame honor from the Hotel Investment Forum of India (2011), and being conferred with the Commandeur of the Order of Leopold II by Belgium in 2011, one of the country’s highest civilian distinctions. Notably, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Travel Agents Association of India in 2010 and was recognized with the India Business Leader Awards by CNBC TV18 in 2009.
In his personal life, Naresh is married to Anita Goyal, and they have two children, a son named Nivaan (24) and a daughter named Namrata (26). The family resides in London, where Naresh and Anita initially met when she joined the company in 1979 as a marketing analyst. They married nine years later, and Naresh Goyal enjoys watching Bollywood movies in his free time.
Early Life and Career
Born into a family of a jewellery dealer, Naresh faced economic hardship after his father’s death. His family’s house was auctioned when he was 11 years old, leading him to live with his mother’s uncle. Financial constraints prevented him from pursuing his dream of becoming a Chartered Accountant, and he had to settle for a Bachelor’s in Commerce.
In 1967, after graduating in Commerce, Naresh entered the travel business with East West Agencies, his maternal uncle’s travel agency representing Lebanese International Airlines. Over seven years, he gained extensive training in various aspects of the travel business with associations with foreign airlines.
Working in roles such as Public Relations Officer with Iraqi Airways (1969) and Regional manager for ALIA, Royal Jordanian Airlines (1971), Naresh accumulated valuable experience. In 1974, he borrowed £500 from his mother to start ‘Jetair (Private) Limited,’ representing foreign airlines like Air France, Austrian Airlines, and Cathay Pacific.
Jet Airways Story
Jet Airways commenced commercial operations on May 5, 1993, backed by Middle East investors, including Gulf Air and Kuwaiti Air. Naresh Goyal’s vision was to connect smaller cities with flights from the Middle East, catering to the large Indian workforce in the region.
Despite facing challenges, including financial constraints and operational involvement, Jet Airways achieved significant milestones. In 2004, Naresh was selected to serve on the Board of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and played a pivotal role in expanding international routes.
The company’s strategic partnership with Etihad Airways in 2013, resulting in a 24% equity stake for $379 million, injected much-needed capital and operational expertise. Jet Airways, under Naresh Goyal’s leadership, became the second-largest airline in India with a 21.2% passenger market share.
Facing market share decline and financial losses by mid-2014, Jet Airways implemented a turnaround strategy. The key initiatives included splitting the low-cost model from main operations, standardizing seat configurations, and consolidating budget carriers.
Hiring a turnaround specialist, the company aimed to reduce losses in 2015, consolidate in 2016, and turn profitable in 2017. The strategy included merging JetLite and JetKonnect, cutting back on international flights, and focusing on the full-service brand.
The Jet-Etihad partnership, combined with these strategic measures, resulted in sustained recovery, showcasing net profits and positive financial performance.
As of today, Jet Airways stands as the second-largest airline in India, operating more than 300 daily flights to 68 destinations worldwide. The company’s offerings are categorized into Air Transportation and Aircraft Leasing, covering both domestic and international markets.
Jet Airways’ successful turnaround efforts have led to improved financial performance, with net sales rising by 11.55% to ₹4,834.50 crores. The company reported a net profit of ₹221.70 crores for the April-June 2015 quarter, marking a positive shift from previous losses.
Naresh Goyal, through his company Tailwinds International, owns 51% of Jet Airways’ stock, with the remaining 49% held by other investors. The airline continues to play a significant role in India’s aviation sector, offering diverse services and maintaining a robust market presence.