This will be the first time that Chandrasekaran will be heading a board of the group’s aviation ventures and shows the growing importance of the sector in the group’s business plan. Chandrasekaran is not part of the board of Tata’s other two airlines- Vistara and AirAsia India.
The Tatas are eager to have a strong board with high standards of corporate governance and are roping in Sanjiv Mehta, CMD of FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever and Alice Vaidyan, former chairman and managing director of General Insurance Corporation of India as non-executive independent directors.
While Mehta has been heading Unilever’s business in India and South since 2013, Vaidyan has over 36 years of experience and is considered to be one of the foremost insurance experts globally. She was the first woman CMD in the Indian general insurance industry. Mehta couldn’t be reached for comment while Vaidyan refused to comment on the topic.
The new Air India CEO, who is likely to be a leading aviation turnaround expert will also be a part of the board while the existing directors of Air India handling core functions- finance, commercial, operations and personnel will retain their position in the board. The group had appointed leading headhunter firms- DHR International and Eghon Zender to find a CEO for Air India. An interim management committee headed by Tata Sons senior Vice President Nipun Aggarwal, senior vice president of Tata Sons and the four functional directors is currently heading the daily operations of the company.
“The Tatas are very eager to set a high standard of corporate governance within Air India and hence a strong board is required as seen within all companies of the group. Simultaneously, all leading names in aviation are eager to be a part of this project of turning around Air India as this is one of the most watched over projects currently in the global aviation industry,” said a person aware of the development.
Nearly seven decades after it lost control, Tatas on Thursday regained ownership of Air India and promised to turn the loss-making carrier into a world-class airline.
The handover culminates a long process of government’s attempt to transfer the ownership of the loss-making airline to a private owner. The airline has never made profit since its merger with Indian Airlines in 2007-08 and has reported a loss of Rs 7,017 crore in FY21.
The acquisition gives the salt-to-software conglomerate 100 percent ownership in Air India, its low cost subsidiary Air India Express and 50 percent stake in ground handling firm AISATS.