On January 4, Air India (AI) appointed a senior management official as the new chief operating officer (COO) of its low-cost arm — AI Express. Nearly a month later, the new COO, Sunil Kishan, is yet to take charge.
Sources said the delay is because Kishan wants to remain in Chennai, where he is based at present as executive director (south), and doesn’t wish to shift to Kochi, where AI Express is headquartered. AI did not offer any comment for the story.
Kishan refused to comment when contacted by the HT. People close to him said he was in the process of “winding-up”.
Others who had applied for the post, said the selection process was not transparent as no interviews were conducted for the COO’s post — something that should have been done after the former COO Pawan Arora fiasco.
Arora, who had been appointed as COO in 2010, was sacked within a month of his appointment by the board after it was revealed that he had been removed from the key flight safety posts by the directorate general of civil aviation.
AI Express has been functioning with an acting COO since then. The airline did not even have a qualified chief of flight safety for many months after the 2010 Mangalore crash.
“Its time they de-linked AI Express from AI if they want to make it a safe airline,” said aviation safety expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan. “The management is not taking note of safety violations inspite of a fatal accident and a string of near disasters. It is very essential to have all the management posts filled up with professionals.”