New Delhi: Dubai-based expatriate businessman Yusuff Ali M.A. will join national carrier Air India, which is being bailed out by the government with an equity infusion, as its fifth independent board member soon, two ministry officials said.
Air India’s board was expanded in March with the appointment of four new independent directors from industry in a bid to revive the loss-laden carrier run by National Aviation Co. of India Ltd.
“We had sent five names for government clearance, but since he is Dubai-based, the background checks took some time. The approval is likely to come any day now,” said a civil aviation ministry official who asked not to be named. A second ministry official confirmed the move.
Loss-laden: Chief operating officer Gustav Baldauf will submit a fresh turnaround plan for the national carrier when the board meets next. Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
Anand Mahindra, vice-chairman and managing director of Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd; Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry secretary general Amit Mitra; industrialist Harsh Neotia and former Air Force chief Fali H. Major joined the board in March.
Kerala-born Yusuff Ali is managing director of the Abu Dhabi-based Emke Group, which runs shopping malls, supermarkets and departmental stores in over two dozen countries, according to the group’s website. These include the Lulu retail chain in Dubai, apart from hotels and a mall planned in Kochi in Kerala.
Also a board member of Cochin International Airport Pvt. Ltd, Ali was an Air India director in 1997-1998. He will be “reinducted” and included in various newly formed committees at the airline that are being tasked with its turnaround, one of the officials said.
Air India, which until recently had an equity capital of Rs145 crore, has lost in excess of $2 billion (around Rs8,900 crore) over the past two years. The government is making an equity capital infusion of as much as Rs2,000 crore (of which Rs800 crore has already been given) into the airline as part of the rescue.
The carrier’s recently named chief operating officer Gustav Baldauf will submit a fresh turnaround plan when the board meets next, at which time it is also likely to consider a report on the freebies provided by Air India to various employees and government officials.