Wednesday 29 June 2022
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Tata had a list of CEO probables before roping in Turkish Ayci

The Tata group says now that the shortlist it had before appointing Ayci the job comprises 'equally competent people' but does not say why an Islamist was preferred

With Islamist Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former associate Ilker Ayci recently stepping down from the position of CEO that Tata Group had offered it, news has now surfaced that the company had a list of candidates it had previously shortlisted and it will pick one of the candidates and make a formal announcement soon. Air India’s new owners have finalized the new appointee after holding discussions in the last few days.

The Tata group has not explained why it picked an officer with a questionable political background if it had a shortlist of “equally competent” people.

Air India’s quest for finding a new CEO has gained momentum again, with reports suggesting that an announcement could be made soon. After an acrimonious protest by people on social and alternative media platforms, Ayci, the man who had been chosen to lead the airline, had declined the job amid the union government’s routine scrutiny of his background. But the team overseeing the airline has reportedly shortlisted another candidate for the carrier’s top job.

Air India seems to be wasting no finding another candidate to replace Iker Ayci for the airline’s CEO position. After months of headhunting, even before gaining control of the airline, the Tata group had finalized former Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci to lead AI.

A source said, “The group went back to the list of other equally qualified candidates for a replacement to Ayci. They are keen on not wasting more on the appointment. The board and chairman will be announced shortly after the CEO announcement.”

Uncertainty around Ayci’s candidacy had started emerging soon after his name was announced. The Tata group wanted Ayci to apply his successful experience at Turkish Airlines to Air India to steer the carrier in a promising direction. But negative media coverage and developments thereafter suggested his path to joining the airline may not be as smooth as it seemed.

Ayci’s name had come as a surprise for many, particularly as other names from the industry had been doing the rounds for quite some time. Late last year, several media reports suggested that industry veteran Fred Reid was being considered for the role, but one name that popped up frequently was that of Alex Cruz.

Many were betting on the ex-British Airways chief to take on the role until the very end. Cruz, who recently joined the board of the WestJet Group, is still speculated to have been approached for the position by Tata Sons, as reported by ET, but there has been no confirmation yet.

Currently, a five-member committee is overseeing Air India. Tata Group is waiting to finalize the new CEO for Air India following which the airline’s new board and chairman will also be announced. The group’s chairman N Chandrasekaran is keen to find someone soon to begin the cleaning up process within the carrier.

From sorting out operations and fleet optimization to expanding the network and shaping a new working culture, there’s plenty to be done at Air India. The Tatas want Air India to eventually become a world-class carrier and know the challenges that face them.

While such changes will take a few years to come about, finding someone to kickstart the process is a priority for AI’s new owners.

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