Q&A with Russi Batliwala, Group Chairman of Chapman Freeborn

posted on 6th November 2020 by Eddie Saunders
Q&A with Russi Batliwala, Group Chairman of Chapman Freeborn

Q You’ve been on a 33-year professional journey with Chapman Freeborn. What does this latest move to chairman mean to you?

A “First of all I’m very grateful to the board at Avia Solutions Group, which acquired the business last year, for allowing me to move into the position. From my perspective, going from CEO to chairman, allows me to now have a different perspective on the business and provides a further opportunity to add value in a new way.

My future is going to be about representing the group at a very high level, and also on a major interest area of mine – mergers and acquisitions.”

Q Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose aviation as a career and how your love affair with aviation began? 
A “I come from an aviation family and as a small child I remember flying around in a DC3, my father in the cockpit. So, I’ve always been involved with aeroplanes and I’ve always loved travelling in aircraft – and I still do today. Every time I see an aeroplane taking off, I still get a kick – even after all these years!”

Q So, did you deliberately target a career in the aviation industry?

A “You would expect that to be true, but in fact coming to Chapman Freeborn was actually a coincidence. I just saw a small advert in a newspaper in Germany and applied. But when I look back and think where I came from, I do sometimes think that perhaps this was what was always in store for me.”

Q What was your first role at the company?

A “I was a trainee aviation broker but, in those days, Chapman Freeborn was a very small company – we were an office of only three people in Germany. That meant I got to do everything – from looking after the petty cash to chartering aircraft. It was a really interesting time and what was most important was that the company gave me all the freedom to get on and develop the business – and ultimately to be successful. I was empowered to ‘get on with it’ and then I built the business together with a lot of other people.”