The appointment of a new chief operating officer (COO) for Air India (AI) Express has been scrapped plunging the low-cost subsidiary of the national carrier into more uncertainty.
AI Express has been functioning without a full-time COO since November 2010 when the then COO Captain Pawan Arora was sacked. On January 4 this year, AI had appointed Sunil Kishan, a senior management official, as the new COO of its low-cost arm.
“The appointment has been cancelled and a search committee has been formed to look for a new COO,” a senior AI official said. The reason why Kishan’s appointment was cancelled isn't clear. When contacted, Kishan refused to comment on the matter. AI did not reply to an email seeking comments for the story.
“AI Express needs a full-time professional head and it should be de-linked from AI’s control,” said aviation safety expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan. Those who had applied for the top post along with Kishan said the selection process wasn’t transparent as no interviews were conducted.
“Even after the Pawan Arora fiasco, AI hasn’t learnt any lesson,” an official said.
Arora had been sacked within a month of his appointment by the AI board after it was revealed that he had been removed from key flight safety posts by the directorate general of civil aviation.
Kishan, sources said, was reluctant to move to Kochi, where AI Express is headquartered, and wanted to remain in Chennai where he is based at present as executive director (South).
“At present, AI Express seems to be a training ground for AI co-pilots to get some experience. This keeps the experience levels low and that is not good for safety,” Ranganathan said.