SJM opposes appointment of Turkish CEO for Air India

SJM co-convener Ashwani Mahajan said that his organisation was opposed to the government clearing the appointment of Ilker Ayci, keeping in mind issues of ‘national security’.

February 27, 2022 12:10 pm | Updated 12:35 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Ilker Ayci who has been chosen by Tata Sons as CEO of Air India. File

Ilker Ayci who has been chosen by Tata Sons as CEO of Air India. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) has expressed reservations and asked for a rethink on the part of the company, Tata Sons, on the appointment of the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Air India, Turkish national, Ilker Ayci.

Speaking to The Hindu, SJM co-convener Ashwani Mahajan said that his organisation was opposed to the government clearing the appointment, keeping in mind issues of “national security.”

“I think the government is already very sensitive to the issue and has taken up the matter very seriously. I don’t think the approval [by the government] will come,” he said. The SJM’s reservations on Mr. Ayci’s appointment stem from his close relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to whom the former was an adviser when he was mayor of Istanbul between 1994-1998. In Mr. Ayci’s favour is the fact that he was in part responsible for turning Turkish Airlines around under his stewardship between 2015-2022. Tata Sons have recently bought India’s flagship carrier Air India.

Mr. Ayci is to assume his position on April 1 this year, subject to a thorough background check by the Ministry of Home Affairs which usually takes place when a foreign national is appointed at an important position in any domestic company, said Ministry sources.

“We hope both Tata Sons and the Union government take our sensitivities on board on this matter. Relationships have a bearing on decisions,” said Mr. Mahajan.

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