Air India is under increasing pressure to reconsider the appointment of Capt Pawan Arora as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of its low-cost subsidiary — AI Express —with the ministry of civil aviation making it clear on Tuesday that the "course correction" had to be done.
The ministry has also asked AI to submit a report on the controversial appointment.
HT had first reported that Directorate General of Civil Aviation had removed Arora from four key flight safety posts after the appointments were found to be irregular (AI plum post for Capt with shaky past, October 22).
"The AI board will take a decision on any controversial appointment," civil aviation minister Praful Patel said.
"Not enough checks had been conducted on Arora's past record. Course correction has to be done. We all make mistakes and hopefully the AI board will correct this mistake," a top ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
It has also emerged that Arora was the chief reference for Gustav Baldauf (AI COO) in a report prepared by a recruitment agency hired for short-listing candidates for AI's COO's post. Within months of Baldauf taking over, Arora was appointed as COO of AI Express.
The strong reaction from the ministry comes a day after AI's independent directors met with PM's principal Secretary, TKA Nair and questioned Arora's appointment saying they were "misguided" and "kept in dark" about his previous record.
They had also told Nair that if AI's turnaround strategy was to work, its CMD Arvind Jadhav had to go.