Mumbai: The civil aviation ministry is seeking to hire three directors for divestment-bound Air India Ltd.
The ministry has sought applications for the positions of a director each for the key verticals of operations, commercial and personnel. The step is in line with a cabinet decision last year to induct professionals from the private sector into top managerial positions in an effort to make the airline turn profitable.
The directors will report to Air India’s managing director Ashwani Lohani.
The director (operations) would be responsible for flight operations, ground operations, flight safety and training. The director (commercial) would contribute to the formulation of corporate marketing policies and strategies aimed at optimizing revenue generation, product development and the overall business objectives of the company. The director (personnel) would be in charge of coordinating and implementing personnel and industrial relations policies, management functions and administrative control.
Applications can be submitted until 13 January, according to a ministry notification.
“The government is keen to fill top level positions at the national carrier with competent people, who could be from the corporate sector, or professionals with key experience in aviation," said a senior government official who did not want to be identified. In the event of the privatization of the national carrier, these personnel may be required to resign from their posts, the official said.
The development comes a day after one of the airline’s employee unions, the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA), wrote to aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri to clear pending dues of the staff and allow them to leave the company without serving a notice period.
“It is unfair for the government of India to keep us bonded with the notice period though we are not being paid on time and they are not clearing our dues," ICPA said.
Puri had in November informed the Rajya Sabha that the airline might have to shut down if the government’s second attempt to privatize it fails.
Cash-starved Air India has reported a provisional net loss of ₹8,556.35 crore in 2018-19, while the accumulated loss of the airline has swelled to ₹69,575.64 crore in the past decade.
The airline has liabilities of nearly ₹22,000 crore, including ₹5,000 crore outstanding to oil refiners, ₹5,000 crore to private and state-run airport operators and ₹8,000 crore contingent liabilities from advance booking of tickets. The airline also owes other vendors close to ₹4,000 crore. On top of these liabilities, it has a debt of ₹58,000 crore, including working capital and aircraft debt.