G. R. Gopinath
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|Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar Gopinath|
G.R. Gopinath (left), 2009
November 13, 1951 |
Gorur, Karnataka, India
|Known for||founder of Air Deccan|
Background and early life
Gopinath was born in Gorur (a remote village in Karnataka's Hassan district) on November 13, 1951. He was the second of eight children. Gopinath's father; a school teacher, believed that schools were systems of regimentation and was resolved to teach Gopinath at home. However, Gopinath was admitted to a Kannada medium school quite late and straight away he joined Standard V. In 1962, Gopinath cleared the admission test and joined Sainik School, Bijapur. The sainik school helped and prepared Gopinath to clear the NDA entrance exams. After 3 years of rigorous training, Gopinath completed education from the NDA. He then went on to graduate from the IMA.
After school, he earned a commission in the Indian Army, earning the rank of Captain. He spent eight years in the army and fought in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
The army life seemed to somehow tie him down. He took early retirement from Indian Army, at the age of 28. Upon retirement from the armed forces, he established an ecologically sustainable sericulture farm; his innovative methods earned him the Rolex Laureate Award in 1996. Next, he started the Malnad Mobikes (Enfield dealership) and opened a hotel in Hasan.
In 1997 he co-founded Deccan Aviation, a charter helicopter service. In 2003 Gopinath founded Air Deccan, a low cost airline; Air Deccan merged with Kingfisher Airlines in 2007. In 2009 he founded Deccan 360, a freight flight business. In July 2013, Deccan 360 was ordered to wind up by the Karnataka High Court order based on petitions filed by Dubai-based United Aviation Services (UAS) and another by M/s Patel Integrated Logistics (PIL) Pvt. Ltd. — seeking recovery of amounts due to them by winding up the company.
In May 2006 he was knighted with “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur” the highest civilian award conferred by the French Government. He has received many awards for Air Deccan.
In 2009 Gopinath unsuccessfully contested as an independent candidate in the Lok Sabha elections
In 2014, He unsuccessfully contested Lok Sabha elections on the ticket of Aam Aadmi Party 
Gopinath moved to Bengaluru in 1992 where he bumped into Captain K.J. Samuel, who was his friend in the army. Samuel was now a freelance pilot and was planning to set-up a commercial Helicopter service. In 1995, when the Indian government started a regulatory reforms process to encourage entrepreneurship, Gopinath partnered with Samuel and established Deccan Aviation. Deccan's helicopters were chartered by most politicians and the company also got involved in many rescue missions in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kabul and south India. The Company grew to become one of the largest private air charter company in India and Sri Lanka.
Inspired by the success of Southwest Airlines in the United States and Ryanair in Europe, Deccan Aviation launched India's first low-cost airline, Air Deccan in 2003. Deccan Aviation went public in May 2006, however by then the airline was losing money. The following year, the Vijay Mallya lead UB group purchased a strategic 26 per cent stake in Deccan Aviation . At the time of purchase, Air Deccan connected sixty nine cities around India. Mallya merged the two airlines soon after and Capt. Gopinath sold most of his stake in the company in 2009.
During the merger process of Kingfisher with Air Deccan, the Charter services division of Deccan Aviation was transferred into a new company named Deccan Charters Limited after it received its Non-Scheduled Air Operator Permit (NSOP) from the DGCA on 10 October 2008. During that period, the Charter operations continued to perform satisfactorily and increased its presence in off shore flying for the oil sector.
Gopinath used the money from the UB Group deal to start Deccan 360, a cargo airline, in May 2009. But that enterprise too was squeezed by a severe cash crunch and shut shop in 2011. The same year, Gopinath became the 100% owner of Deccan Charters by purchasing the stake Mallya held in the company as part of the 2007 deal. The following year, Gopinath launched daily charter flights in the state of Gujarat under the brand name of Deccan Shuttles. The flights connected Ahmedabad, Surat, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Kandla using a nine-seater Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft. The service wound up in 2013. In April 2017, Deccan charters bid for and won 34 regional Indian routes under the UDAN scheme. Operating under the brand name Air Deccan, it will commence operations in December 2017 with flights between Mumbai and Nashik. Air Deccan will operate 19-seater Beechcraft 1900D turboprop aircraft that are suitable for short-haul flights. The airline has plans to connect Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Shillong to regional towns in the vicinity of these cities. 
Awards and honors
- 1996 - Rolex Awards for Enterprise
- 2005 - Rajyotsava Award (Karnataka)
- 2007 - Chevalier de la legion d’Honneur (France)
- Personality of the Decade Award (K.G. Foundation)
- Sir M Visvesvaraya Memorial Award (Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce & Industry)
Books by Gopinath
- Simply Fly: A Deccan Odyssey, Collins Business, 2010, ISBN 978-81-7223-842-1, ISBN 978-93-5029-155-9
- Pathak, Nilima (8 April 2011). "Adopting a revolutionary approach". Gulf News. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Srikar Muthyala (29 September 2015). "The List of Great Entrepreneurs of India in 2015". MyBTechLife. Archived from the original on 2016-01-14.
- Bengaluru, Sudha Narasimhachar (1 May 2012). "Adored by millions, Capt Gopinath is a man of many faces". The Weekend Leader. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- "Captain G R Gopinath: Founder of Air Deccan". Matpal.com. February 8, 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- ISBN 978-93-5029-155-9
- "It's curtains for Deccan 360". The Hindu. 2013-07-14. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- ET Bureau Mar 27, 2009, 04.30am IST. "Captain Gopinath to fight LS elections - timesofindia-economictimes". Articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- Dhar, Upinder (2008). New Age Marketing: Emerging Realities. New Delhi: Excel Books. p. 71.
- "Air Deccan plans 'very low-cost' flights". Rediff.com. 2 July 2003. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "Deccan Aviation IPO on May 18, price band Rs. 150-175". The Hindu Business Line. 12 May 2006. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "Speculation in the air as Deccan Aviation scrambles for new cash". Live Mint. 19 May 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "Vijay Mallya lands 26% stake in Deccan Aviation". The Hindu Business Line. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "Kingfisher Airlines, Deccan decide to merge". The Hindu Business Line. 20 December 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "Gopinath reduces stake in Kingfisher to 1.75%". Live Mint. 17 September 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "Director Report Kingfisher Airlines Ltd". ET Markets.com. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
- "GR Gopinath's Deccan Charters faces severe crisis; puts entire fleet of aircraft on sale". The Economic Times. 15 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
- "Deccan Shuttles to launch operations in Gujarat on Monday". Live Mint. 18 August 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
- "Captain Gopinath back in the game; Deccan Charter to fly on regional routes". Business Standard. 27 March 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
- "Aviation pioneer GR Gopinath makes comeback with Air Deccan, to start disruptive Re 1 tickets". Business Today (India). 15 December 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
- Rolex awards for Enterprise Archived 2010-09-21 at the Wayback Machine.
- "The Hindu : Karnataka / Bangalore News : 127 persons get Rajyotsava Award". www.thehindu.com. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
- "Captain Gopinath". Indian Heroes. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
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