Naresh Goyal: The Rise and Fall of Jet Airways

Naresh Goyal is a non-resident Indian businessman and the founder chairman of Jet Airways. He started operating Jet Airways in 1993 with initial seed money from Tail Winds incorporated, Isle of Man. Under his leadership, Jet Airways became India’s largest domestic airline and one of the most successful airlines in Asia. However, the airline ran into financial trouble in 2019 and was forced to suspend operations. Goyal stepped down as chairman of the airline in 2020.

Early Life and Career

Naresh Goyal was born in Sangrur, Punjab, India, in 1948. He studied commerce at Panjab University and then worked as a cashier at his uncle’s travel agency. In 1973, he founded his own travel agency, Surya Travels.

In 1993, Goyal founded Jet Airways with an initial investment of $10 million. The airline started operations with a fleet of four leased Boeing 737-300 aircraft. Jet Airways quickly became popular with passengers due to its low fares and high-quality service.

The Rise of Jet Airways

In the early years, Jet Airways grew rapidly. The airline expanded its fleet and added new routes. It also launched a number of innovative services, such as the JetPrivilege frequent flyer program. By 2007, Jet Airways had become India’s largest domestic airline.

Jet Airways also expanded internationally. The airline started flying to destinations in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe. In 2007, Jet Airways acquired Air Sahara, its main competitor. This acquisition made Jet Airways the dominant airline in India.

The Fall of Jet Airways

Jet Airways’ financial problems began in 2018. The airline was struggling to compete with low-cost carriers such as IndiGo and SpiceJet. Jet Airways also faced high debt levels and rising fuel costs.

In 2019, Jet Airways was forced to ground its fleet due to financial difficulties. The airline’s pilots and engineers went on strike, demanding unpaid salaries. The Indian government also refused to bail out the airline.

Jet Airways filed for bankruptcy in June 2019. The airline’s assets were sold to a consortium of investors led by the Jalan-Kalrock group. The new owners are expected to revive the airline and resume operations in 2023.

Naresh Goyal’s Legacy

Naresh Goyal is a controversial figure. He is credited with building Jet Airways into a successful airline, but he is also criticized for his management style and financial decisions.

Goyal’s supporters say that he was a visionary entrepreneur who created a world-class airline. They argue that he was unfairly targeted by the Indian government and that the airline’s financial problems were beyond his control.

Goyal’s critics say that he was a ruthless businessman who put profits ahead of safety and service. They argue that he was responsible for the airline’s financial problems and that he should be held accountable.

Regardless of one’s opinion of Naresh Goyal, there is no doubt that he was a significant figure in the Indian aviation industry. He will be remembered as the founder of Jet Airways, one of the most successful airlines in Asia.


Naresh Goyal’s story is a cautionary tale about the dangers of hubris and greed. He built a successful airline from scratch, but he was ultimately undone by his own arrogance. His downfall is a reminder that even the most successful businesses are vulnerable to failure.

The future of Jet Airways is uncertain. The new owners are facing a number of challenges, including the need to rebuild the airline’s brand and reputation. However, if they are successful, Jet Airways could once again become a major player in the Indian aviation industry.

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