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NEW DELHI : Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd named Campbell Wilson, chief executive of Singapore Airlines’ low-fare Scoot unit, to helm Air India Ltd after former Turkish Airlines chief Ilker Ayci turned down the role following opposition to his appointment, just weeks after he was offered the job.

Wilson is likely to take over as the chief executive of Air India after completing his notice period with Scoot till mid-June. The board of Air India has approved Wilson’s appointment, Tata Sons said in the statement, adding that it is subject to requisite regulatory approvals.

The Scoot CEO will spearhead Tata group’s efforts to turn around the former state-run carrier, which has reported losses since it was merged with the state-owned domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007. However, Air India has access to prized slots at London’s Heathrow and New York’s John F. Kennedy, among other airports.

“Air India is at the cusp of an exciting journey to become one of the best airlines, offering world-class products and services with a distinct customer experience that reflects Indian warmth and hospitality," Wilson said in the statement. “I am excited to join Air India and Tata colleagues in the mission of realizing that ambition."

Wilson started his career with Singapore Airlines in 1996 and was senior vice-president for sales and marketing at the carrier for four years before taking on the CEO role at Scoot for a second time in April 2020.

“He is an industry veteran, having worked in key global markets cutting across multiple functions. Air India would benefit from his added experience of having built an airline brand in Asia," N. Chandrasekaran, chairman of the board of Tata Sons and Air India, said in the statement. In March, former Turkish Airlines chairman Ayci declined to take up the top job at Air India a fortnight after being chosen for the role because of opposition from some political groups, which questioned his close links with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seen as a friend of Pakistan.

Air India is one of four airline brands operated by Tata group. The Mumbai-based conglomerate holds majority stakes in AirAsia India and Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines Ltd, and also owns Air India Express, a no-frills subsidiary of Air India.

In January, Air India was handed back to its founders, the Tata group, after emerging as the top bidder for the government-controlled carrier in October. The sale to Tata Sons ended years of government efforts to privatize the money-losing airline. Air India was launched in 1932 by the Tata group’s former chairman J.R.D. Tata.

Bloomberg contributed to the story.

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