Role for Pitroda, Narayana Murthy in Air India on the cards | india | Hindustan Times
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Role for Pitroda, Narayana Murthy in Air India on the cards

india Updated: Jul 08, 2009 20:01 IST

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The civil aviation ministry is considering the names of some top industrialists and technocrats, including Sam Pitroda, NR Narayana Murthy and S Ramadorai, for reviving national carrier Air India, official sources said.

"Our minister has already initiated the process. These names will be finalised soon," a top official said, referring to Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel's plans to find eminent persons who will help turn the ailing carrier around.

Sam Pitroda had led India's telecom revolution in the late 1980s, Murthy is the co-founder of Infosys Technologies, among the top IT companies in the country, and Ramadorai is chairman of Tata Consultancy, another IT major of repute and top exporter-outsourcer.

"Ramadorai's name has already been cleared for the role of functional director. Talks are on with the others as well. As many as seven new directors may be inducted as per plans," the ministry official said, requesting anonymity.

"A new post of chief operating officer is also being considered to assist the chairman and managing director," the official said, adding that preference will be for a person who has been at the helm of Indian or an overseas carrier with proven track record.

Simultaneously, the ministry has initiated the process to evaluate the roles and the performance of all executives of the carrier above the level of deputy general managers to ensure better management in the future.

"This will help Air India identify areas where the carrier is faltering, bring change in its working, and set targets that executives will have to meet," the ministry official said.

Civil Aviation Minister Patel on Tuesday said that the top brass of the loss-making national carrier was headed for a rejig with the government proposing to hire "people with proven track record" to help in its turnaround.

"You will see major changes in the next 30 days. There will be major changes in the Air India top management. We will bring in people with proven track record in business," Patel said. "Some heads will roll."

His comment comes within days of Air India chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav warning employees - who had proceeded on a two-hour strike last week - to be prepared for harsh decisions necessary to deal with the financial crisis the carrier was facing.

The carrier is in a financial mess with losses expected to have topped Rs 5,000 crore ($1 billion) last fiscal, forcing Patel to approach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a Rs 10,000-crore (about $2-billion) bailout package for the beleaguered carrier.

The carrier had earlier knocked on the doors of the parent ministry for a $4.5-billion rescue package.

The government merged Indian Airlines with Air India last year forming a new entity - the National Aviation Co of India Ltd. The Air India brand name was, however, retained.

Last month, the carrier was also forced to delay the payment of salaries, apart from asking senior executives to forego a month's pay.