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Air India may recruit joint managing director soon

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-05-2017 Tarun Shukla

New Delhi: Air India Ltd is likely to hire a new joint managing director (MD) soon, even as the government considers disinvestment in the state-owned airline.

“We are asking for a post creation from DoPT (department of personnel and training),” said an aviation ministry official, who did not want to be named.

Air India has had two joint MDs since it merged with Indian Airlines in 2007. Bureaucrat Vishwapati Trivedi was the first. Syed Nasir Ali, an Indian Revenue Service officer deputed to the aviation ministry, was joint MD from 2012 to 2014. Since then, the post has not been filled.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had asked the aviation ministry to fill the position, which fell vacant in 2014, Mint first reported on 19 September. The process had slowed since then, but gathered momentum again. The ministry wrote to DoPT last week to create the position.

Earlier this month, ACC filled two independent director positions on the Air India board which had been vacant for several months. One is Bharatiya Janata Party’s national spokesperson Syed Zafar Islam, a former investment banker; and the other is former Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd chairman R.K. Tyagi, who previously served in the aviation ministry as head of Pawan Hans Ltd.

The aviation ministry official quoted above said besides these, there was no move to bring in more people for now. Islam has a strong finance background, while Tyagi has been in aviation for some years now, the person said.

“The independent directors are all professionals, people who have done work in that area,” he said, adding, “we are not looking at anyone else besides JMD”.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has already said the government is open to the idea of disinvestment in the state-run airline. The ministry started looking at options for Air India late last month, said another government official who did not want to be named.

“The spadework has started but we still don’t know what shape it will take. We are also valuing what is the scope of monetization of the airline’s assets,” this official said.

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