Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav will be given marching orders very soon, even “in a day”, as the government tries to set its house in order with the ailing national carrier going into deep red.
“Present CMD is going. And definitely we will make the appointment of the new person along with that. It is a matter of (time)… it can be earlier or in a day,” Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi said on Friday after the government came in for flak in the Lok Sabha on the airline’s precarious financial condition.
Ravi, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament House, also announced that three new Directors would be inducted in the Air India Board very soon for Personnel, Marketing and Finance departments.“We can’t wait for long and Air India has its own problems. I narrated in a statement (in the Lok Sabha). We will make all the efforts. Even though they (Opposition) may criticise, I know I have the full support of parlimentarians”, he said.
Observing that there was lack of senior people to head the airline, Ravi said he has informed the Prime Minister about it.”So a full-fledged Board will come and also Executive Directors from the industry will also come. So everything will be streamlined,” he said, adding, “Definitely we will do everything possible, look into every aspect… and we will make the Air India revive as fast as I can”.
The government’s move to fill the vacancies in the Board comes in the backdrop of former FICCI official and present West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra and Vice Chairman and MD of the Mahindra Group Anand Mahindra quitting as independent directors in the board. Asked by when the turnaround and the financial restructuring plans would be fully in place, Ravi said the Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, was looking into it and wil meet on August 17.
“That GoM will examine whatever (options are) available. Then GoM will consider and…. Our first priority is to reduce the loss. It is not the salary alone”.He also ruled out privatisation saying the government and the Prime Minister himself have taken so many initiatives. “The message to the company is — no privatisation”.
On oil companies threatening to stop jet fuel supply to Air India aircraft, he said he had held a “good meeting” with Petroleum Minister S Jaipal Reddy.
“Thereafter, I think, he has already directed the (Petroleum) Secretary, don’t stop without notice. There are cash and carry arrangements. Unfortunately, sometimes the supplies are stopped and that disrupts the flights. I told Reddy, at least inform us…. He agreed and I think it is very good for Air India,” he said.