Over six months after Air India's (AI) Chief Operating Officer (COO) Gustav Baldauf made an unceremonious exit after speaking out against the government, the airline board has given its nod for appointing a full-time COO.
AI board, which met in New Delhi last week, has also cleared the proposal for appointing a COO for AI Express — the international low cost arm of the state-owned carrier.
A search panel has been formed for short listing candidates for the two top posts — both of whom would report to AI chief managing director Rohit Nandan.
After the public criticism and the huge resentment in AI over appointing a foreigner as COO for an annual remuneration of Rs 3.1 crore, when the airline had no money to pay salaries to its employees, it has been decided to look for candidates from India — both from within and outside AI.
"We will be issuing an advertisement shortly," a source said.
Aviation experts said the airline and the aviation ministry should not goof-up the way they did while appointing Baldauf and Pavan Arora, former COO, AI Express.
Baldauf's appointment had been controversial from the very beginning. He was 54-years-old when as per the terms of appointment cleared by the AI board, the eligible candidate should have been in the age group of 45-50 years.
He stayed at the helm only for nine months and under him AI made the disastrous transition to Terminal 3 of the Delhi airport.
Arora, who took over as AI Express COO in October last year was sacked within a month of his appointment by the AI board. The decision was taken after it was revealed that Arora, hired for a pay package of R1.5 crore, was removed by the DGCA from key flight safety posts prior to his appointment. He finally left the airline in February and within days of Baldauf also quit.