Rohit Nandan appointed Air India chief

Air India got a new chairman-cum-managing director as the government on Friday formally notified the appointment of Rohit Nandan, a U.P. cadre IAS officer of 1982 batch, to head the ailing national carrier.

Mr. Nandan, a joint secretary in the Civil Aviation Ministry, replaces Arvind Jadhav, a senior IAS officer, who has been given marching orders and repatriated to his parent cadre in Karnataka. Mr. Jadhav’s three-year term was to end in May 2012 but his failure on all parameters and lacklustre performance only hurried his exit from the airline which finds itself sunken in huge financial losses.

“My first priority will be to work on Air India’s turnaround and cut financial losses. Second will to be raise employees’ morale at all levels and third to upgrade service quality to match up to the expectations of travelling public. It is too early for me to give any timeline,” Mr. Nandan who took over charge as AI chief said in his preliminary observations. His appointment as Air India CMD is also for three years. He is the third CMD of Air India in as many years.

On a day when the government came in for flak in the Lok Sabha on Air India’s fragile financial health, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament House, said that three new directors would be inducted in the Air India Board very soon for the Personnel, Marketing and Finance departments.

“We cannot wait for long and Air India has its own problems,” he told journalists outside Parliament House earlier in the day. Mr. Ravi said that a full-fledged board would be constituted, adding that everything would be streamlined in the carrier which has been bogged down by mismanagement, loss of market share, huge losses and lack of motivation and confidence among its employees.

“Definitely we will do everything possible, look into every aspect... and we will revive Air India as fast as we can,” Mr. Ravi said.

The government also plans to soon bring eminent persons from financial and hospitality sectors to serve as independent directors on the AI board as former FICCI official and present West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra and vice-chairman of the Mahindra Group Anand Mahindra had quit as independent directors in the board.

Asked when the turnaround and the financial restructuring plans would be fully in place, Mr. Ravi said the Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, was looking into it and would meet on August 17. He also ruled out privatisation saying the government and the Prime Minister himself have taken so many initiatives. “The message to the company is — no privatisation,” he added.

As of today, Air India’s debt stands at Rs. 42,570 crore and losses are to the tune of Rs. 22,000 crore. It needs equity support of nearly Rs. 43,000 crore till 2021 and an immediate equity infusion of Rs. 6,600 crore. Over the past year, the government has injected an equity of Rs. 3,200 crore. The airline is finding it difficult to pay salaries to its employees and also pay its dues to the oil companies for the aviation fuel.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 7:03:55 AM |

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