The fate of some top Air India (AI) executives — including chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav — hung in the balance on Monday after the company’s independent directors closed ranks in an unprecedented move to tell the prime minister’s office (PMO) that they had “lost confidence” in the struggling airline’s current leadership.
The directors — Anand Mahindra, vice-chairman and managing director of Mahindra and Mahindra Group, Harsh Neotia, chairman of Ambuja Realty, Amit Mitra, secretary-general of FICCI, Air Chief Marshal (retd) Fali H Major and Yusuff Ali MA, managing director of Dubai-based industrial house Emke Group — are expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after he gets back from the G20 summit in Seoul later this month.
The directors have also unequivocally voiced their opposition to the appointment of Captain Pawan Arora as the new chief operating officer of Air India Express, the airline’s low cost international carrier, said a source who did not wish to be identified.
The five independent directors who met the PM’s principal secretary, TKA Nair, made it clear to him that if AI’s turnaround strategy is to work, Jadhav has to go.
“The directors were particularly furious with Arora’s appointment, saying they were misguided and kept in the dark about his previous record,” the source said.
A final decision is expected after the meeting with the PM.
Jadhav did not respond to calls and text messages from HT. As first reported in this newspaper, (AI plum post for Capt with shaky past, October 22) Arora has a chequered aviation career, having been removed from key positions he held.