Arvind Jadhav, a 1978-batch IAS official, assumed charge as CMD Air India in May 2009. He has faced many ups and downs – two major strikes and the crash of an AI Express flight. In the backdrop of a raging controversy over top-level appointments, rising debt and a merger that has failed to take shape, Jadhav talked to Hindustan Times. Excerpts:
The sacking of AI Express COO Pawan Arora and a committee formed to look into the ‘process of recruitment’ of Stefan Sukumar. There is a view that top executives of the company don’t see eye-to-eye?
That is not the case. AI’s top management works in tandem with its Board, the Ministry and other stakeholders. There was unanimity for getting in professionals; the posts were advertised and a selection procedure followed diligently. When some new facts came to light, they were looked into and are being acted upon.
DGCA had removed Arora from four positions before the board meeting on Sept 28. Neither Arora nor AI COO Gustav Baldauf indicated this to the Board. Doesn’t this put a question mark on Baldauf?
Removed from four posts? Like I said earlier, we are looking into the new facts and will definitely share the outcome.
Arora was the chief referee for Baldauf. How can his views be accepted?
Since when did a referee’s recommendation ensure an individual’s selection in any organisation? That is just one of the many criteria.
Independent directors calling on the PMO: unprecedented?
I don’t agree with your
The AI-IA merger doesn’t seem to have worked.
Did I ever say all is well with AI? There are issues and we are in the process of streamlining. It takes time.
Of late, AI and the ministry have had a difficult relationship.
Home and finance ministries have raised objection to the R1,200 crore equity infusion. Many public sector firms borrow at 6.5-7.5% interest rate. AI borrows at 11%. Why?
AI is financially severely constrained. We are in a severe debt trap. We are borrowing to pay interest and we are borrowing at steep rates because AI’s credit worthiness isn’t all that rosy.
That is why we are repeatedly asking for equity infusion and re-structuring of our interest rates. These two decisions can save over R1,000 crore per annum for AI.
Does AI need an aviation professional to lead it out of the present mess?
We are all working together for the turnaround and for restoration of the glory of the national carrier.
What is the status of talks with Boeing regarding delay in delivery? Do you thing the contract should be scrapped?
We are in constant dialogue with Boeing. Penalties for the delay in delivery of 787 are being invoked. The contract can’t be scrapped outright, one due to its complex nature and two because 737-800’s and 777’s have already been delivered. They were part of the same contract.