The first chief operating officer (COO) of ailing national carrier Air India, Capt Gustav Baldauf, indicated on Tuesday that the government was clear it would stand by the company.
“(The) government has made a clear statement that it wants the airline to change and improve. It has allowed independent directors to be on the airline’s board. There is a clear understanding in the board and the government on the targets,” Baldauf said on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Berlin.
Asked how he would deal with the different work culture of a government organisation, Baldauf, who earlier worked as Jet Airways’ vice-president (operations), said, “I know it is a different process. It is not a private company. But we definitely have systems in place. It is easier to work in a government environment.”
“The stake-holder (government) would tell the board what it wants, and the board in turn would tell the executive what to do. Everyone knows what the problem is. So we have to give them clear targets on which they will have to work,” Baldauf said.
The new COO, an Austrian national, said plans have been worked out for improving the operations and financials of Air India, but he would be primarily involved with operational issues. He, however, did not give any details.
To a question on whether he would be able to work with the ‘same speed’ in decision-making as he did during his stint with Jet Airways, Baldauf said, “We cannot expect the same speed, but I am confident that the results will be the same as in the case of Jet Airways”.
Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav, who is also attending the IATA meet, said all legalities and the salary package for Baldauf had been worked out, and the new COO has signed the appointment contract.