In between the privatisation process of Air India, the government appointed Rajiv Bansal, an additional secretary with the oil and gas ministry, as the new boss of the state-owned airline. He will replace Ashwani Lohani, the current Chairman & Managing Director (CMD), who didn’t agree to extend his one-year contract, which expired on February 11.
Bansal has served as CMD of Air India for around a year in 2017 before going back to the oil & gas ministry.
Lohani, who was reappointed Air India CMD in 2019, had earlier held the position for around two years from 2015. In August 2017, he was named the Chairman to the Railway Board. He retired on December 31, 2018. Sources aware of the development said Lohani didn’t agree to extending his one-year contract as he didn’t see an opportunity for growth. “He wasn’t very happy as there were cap on expansion and growth plans due to the ongoing disinvestment process, he didn't want to be remembered as the last CMD of Air India as it now exists,” the person said.
The government has undertaken for the third time the process to privatise Air India after a failed attempt in 2017. As part of the process, the Department of Private Assets and Management has put limits on any capex expansion plans of the airline.