Biting Questions with Karan Deswal, CanSky Aviation
Where were you born? In a village called Ghori near New Delhi, India.
How long have you been in the business? You could say since I was 16 and started taking flying lessons.I got my pilot's licence at 20 and worked as a pilot for about 4 years and then joined Air France flight ops, but KLM caught my eye and I joined them as a flight operations officer in Dubai.
When did you come to Canada? I came with KLM in 1986 as a Relief Station Manager in Toronto and gradually worked my way up to be Director/Stations for Toronto and Western Canada for KLM and Air France.
I hear you’re retired now. I retired on September 30th last year after 43 years with KLM & Air France-KLM. Then I immediately started up CanSky Aviation which consults with airlines and airports regarding matters such as taxation and legislation, and acts as a consultant on airport services such as ground handling to improve efficiencies.
What did you want to be as a kid? A pilot, of course!
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Handling the Air France crash at Pearson in 2005. Nothing can prepare you for that. I’m so relieved that everyone survived.
Any guilty pleasures? Good cars.
What’s your favourite airline? KLM, it goes without saying. KLM values its people and takes care of them.
Favourite hotel? Any Hyatt, especially their properties in India.
Airport? Amsterdam – where else is a 15 minute connection possible – plus a hotel, shopping mall and casino, all under one roof?
What’s at the top of your bucket list? The Maldives.
Who do you most admire in the industry? (Thinks for a while) Honestly? Suzanne Christie [former KLM sales manager and Open Jaw’s co-owner and co-founder]. She left KLM with the passion of creating something and today everyone knows Open Jaw.
How do you stay fit when you travel? I hit the treadmill – I have one at home too.
If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? Apply Sir Richard Branson's philosophy across the industry: take care of the employees and they will take care of your customers.
If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? Indian movie star and celebrity Amitabh Bachchan.
What kind of car do you drive? A BMW X5
What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? For aviation, keeping up with the growth of passenger numbers and building and expanding quickly enough to handle them through the airports.
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Finding the best possible cruises; taking longer ones and discovering unknown destinations. Cruising – now that’s a real vacation!