New Delhi: Less than a year after taking over the reins of Air India, run by government-owned National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, or Nacil, its chairman and managing director Raghu Menon has applied to be considered to lead the country’s new airport regulator, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority.
Aera, as the proposed regulator is called in short, will replace the current state owned regulator Airports Authority of India, or AAI, for setting airport tariffs for high traffic airports such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The new regulator will have a chairman and two members. It is expected to be functional early in the next fiscal year.
The government had sought applications from “officers with minimum of five years of service in the next below grade, with at least 18 years of service in the central government or any of the central PSUs (public sector units)” with “a minimum three years of experience in the field of aviation”.
Nearly a dozen applications had been received by 20 January, the last date, for these three posts mostly from retired officers, according to a civil aviation ministry official who asked not to be named.
Menon has sought the chairman’s position, as has also K. Ramalingam, who until last year headed AAI. Others applicants for Aera positions include Yashwant Bhave, secretary, department of consumer affairs; former Air India managing director Brijesh Kumar; V. Subramanian, former secretary, ministry of new and renewable energy; and B.N. Puri, principal adviser, Planning Commission, besides others. Further details could not be immediately ascertained.
A search and selection committee headed by cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar is expected to screen the applications received for various posts over the next fortnight, the ministry official said.
A 1974 batch Indian Administrative Service officer, Menon took charge at Nacil last April after initially pulling out from the race to the top post.
Soon after taking over, Menon had said his focus would be to carry through the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines. “Merging two giant organizations with a combined strength of almost 33,000 employees is not an easy task. It is a time-consuming process— sometimes painful and there are very hard decisions to be taken. I give myself about a year’s time to see that at least 75-80% of the integration process is done,” he had said in his first interview with Mint.
Just a few months into shifting from New Delhi to Air India’s headquarters in Mumbai, Menon had faced health problems that kept him away from work for a few weeks.
If Menon moves to Aera, an analyst predicted there will be “some disruption and delay in the strategy formulation and execution”, but it is unlikely to have an impact on the airline as long as the government finds an alternative successor quickly. “Are you going to stop flying Air India if there is no CEO? Of course, not. The business continues,” he said.