Shape up or ship out: that is the message to Air India's top management from independent directors who have told new civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi that he must act to rescue the ailing carrier.
Four of the independent directors — Amit Mitra, secretary-general of industry chamber FICCI; Harsh Neotia, chairman, Ambuja Realty; former air force chief Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Fali H Major; and Yusuff Ali MA, managing director of Dubai-based industrial house Emke Group — met Ravi for the first time on Monday and conveyed their “unhappiness” over the way the airline was being run.
Sources in the know told HT that giving their frank assessment on the state of affairs, they told Ravi that there had been absolutely no improvement in the way the airline was being run over the last one year after they came on board. They said their views on important issues such as work discipline, on-time performance and recruitment had been “completely ignored” by the AI management.
"All these men have a standing of their own. Their reputation and credibility is at stake. They have asked that top executives be made accountable for their actions," said a person privy to the discussions.
"I met them for over half-an-hour and would be meeting them again. We discussed the airline's health," Ravi tersely told HT.
The latest offensive comes on top of an initiative in November, when the independent directors had conveyed to the Prime Minister's Office their "loss of confidence" in the present AI leadership.
Meanwhile, government sources said recent comments by AI's Chief Operating Officer Gustav Bauldauf of government interference in operations hadn't gone down well with the aviation ministry top brass. "If he doesn't like the place, he is free to leave. He had threatened to quit earlier too and was clearly told to do as he wished," an official said.