The cash-strapped national carrier, Air India (AI), is headed for a major shake-up.
“It will be systemic and managerial,” Praful Patel, union civil aviation minister told Hindustan Times. “It will fix responsibility and show the company the way forward.” Air of despair
He said he had set a 30-day deadline to assemble a top-of-the-line “functional team and an independent board comprising top professional and business people.”
The minister was reluctant to discuss names. But a well-placed source unwilling to come on record disclosed that Tata Consultancy Services chief executive officer, S. Ramadorai could be among the new independent directors on the board of the National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL) that runs AI. “Other directors will be of the same calibre and eminence,” he said.
Patel said the recently appointed AI Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Arvind Jadhav would continue, and that the changes envisaged were aimed at strengthening his hands.
He said a global talent search was on for a Chief Operating Officer (COO) who would report to Jadhav. “He could be a foreigner whom we’ll offer a fixed contract,” the minister said.
The ailing AI’s quest to be counted among the world’s best airlines also entails the setting up of an international advisory board with global aviation experts.
Patel dismissed as “wrong” media reports that AI had sought a Re 15,000 core bailout from the government: “What we are looking for is (increased) government equity and (a repayable) soft-loan to the tune of Rs 5000-7000 crore,” he said.
Patel said the impression that AI ran on public money was incorrect. It was for the first time in its history that the airline had approached the government for help — that too in the face of the extraordinary global aviation crisis that has left even such reputed airlines as British Airways in deep trouble.
“The airline will repay the loan after the turnaround. Even government equity will be repaid through disinvestment,” said Patel.