Pawan Arora has been sacked as the chief operating officer of Air India Express, the low cost international arm of Air India. The decision was taken by the full AI board, which met here on Thursday.
Sources said AI COO Gustav Baldauf has protested to the civil aviation ministry against Arora's removal.
"Baldauf selected Arora and is unhappy with the decision to sack him. We have told him it is up to him to decide what he wants to do," a top ministry official said.
Another high-profile appointment — of Stefan Sukumar as chief of training — is also under the scanner, with a two-member committee being formed to look into the "process of recruitment" and submit a report to the board within a fortnight.
In an action-packed day, AI CMD Arvind Jadhav and three independent directors — Air Chief Marshal (retd) Fali H Major, FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra and Ambuja Realty chairman Harsh Neotia — met civil aviation minister Praful Patel before proceeding to the board meeting.
Thereafter, the Board unanimously decided to sack Arora, on the grounds that a number of things about him weren't known at the time of his appointment — as reported first by HT .
Arora joined AI on October 11. On October 22, HT exposed the fact that the Director General of Civil Aviation had removed him from four key flight-safety posts before he joined the national carrier.
On November 1, AI's independent directors met the PM's principal secretary TKA Nair to tell him they were "misguided" and "kept in the dark" about Arora's record.
It also emerged that Arora was the chief reference for Baldauf, in a report by a headhunting agency hired to short-list candidates for the AI COO's post.
Within months of Baldauf taking over, Arora was made AI Express COO. Both earlier worked together in Jet Airways.