Baldauf quits as Air India COO
Under attack for speaking out against the government, Air India's first chief operating officer Gustav Baldauf resigned on Monday. His resignation has been accepted and Baldauf was relieved of his responsibilities with immediate effect.
Baldauf's decision to quit comes within days of another top executive — AI's chief of training Stefan Sukumar — putting in his papers. It also marks the exit of all top external professionals hired by AI last year as part of its turnaround plan, which in turn raises a question mark on the process adopted for these appointments.
Earlier this month, AI Express COO Pawan Arora's services were dispensed with. A week later Sukumar quit. Both were hired for a package of about Rs1.5 crore-a-year, each. Now, Baldauf, hired for R3.1 crore, has quit.
The civil aviation ministry, as reported by HT on February 25, had already made up its mind to sack Baldauf on grounds of "indiscipline" and "violation of code of conduct rules" for airing his views through the media.
Baldauf had told HT last week that he was under pressure to quit.
"People are pushing me to quit, but I won't," he had said.
Baldauf decision, aviation experts believe, might have preempted the government's move to sack him.
"His resignation will be accepted and he will serve a month's notice," a senior ministry official said.
"If he would have been sacked, it would have been a problem for him to get a job. So the next best option was to quit on his own," an official said.
"Baldauf's appointment in the first place, with a referral from Pawan Arora, had put a question mark on his credentials," said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, a Chennai-based aviation expert.