New AI chief takes over, seeks employees' support


NEW DELHI : Air India's new Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal took charge on Thursday and met top officials of the airline. After assuming office at the national passenger carrier's New Delhi-based HQ -- Airlines House -- Bansal sought support from the employees in making the airline financially viable. "The company has been growing from strength to strength -- inducting new aircraft and introducing new routes," Bansal said. 


"We will plan to work on profitability with a missionary zeal, improve our On-Time-Performance and ensure customer satisfaction...."

Bansal, who also holds the portfolio of Financial Advisor to the Petroleum & Natural Gas Ministry, was given additional charge of Air India's CMD on Wednesday.

He succeeds Ashwani Lohani who was on Wednesday named Chairman of the Railway Board.

"The competent authority has approved the assignment of additional charge of the post of Chairman and Managing Director, Air India to Rajiv Bansal, IAS (NL 88), Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, for a period of three months, or until further orders, whichever is earlier," the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet's executive order issued on Wednesday read.

Bansal is a 1988 batch IAS officer from the Nagaland cadre. His earlier stint with the Ministry of Civil Aviation was between 2006 and 2008, when he served as a Director in the ministry and also as a Board member of the National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL) during the formative years of the merged national carrier. 

He has also served as a Board member of Alliance Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India. 

Bansal's new assignment with Air India comes at a time when the government has decided to divest its stake in the airline.

Currently, a ministerial group has been formed to look into the modalities of Air India's divestment process.

The group -- Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism -- is being headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The group has been mandated to guide the strategic divestment process and to decide on key issues such as treatment of AI's debt and hiving-off of its assets.

The airline which is under massive debt burden of Rs 50,000 crore had posted an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in 2015-16. For the last fiscal (2016-17), the company is expected to report an improved operating profit margin.

The flag carrier had got a new lease of life on April 12, 2012, when the then UPA government had approved a Rs 30,000 crore turnaround (TAP) and financial restructuring plans (FRP) package spanning up to the year 2021.

Presently, Air India has a network of 42 international destinations across the US, Europe, Australia, Far-East and South-East Asia and the Gulf, while its domestic routes serve 72 cities.

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