Arvind Jadhav was today removed as CMD of Air India by the Government which appointed a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official Rohit Nandan as his successor in a bid to speed up the revival of the ailing national air carrier.
The appointment of 54-year-old Nandan, who was the Joint Secretary in the Ministry, was announced even as the Government faced opposition flak in Parliament over the dwindling health of the cash strapped airline. Nandan is a 1982-batch IAS officer.
As per the notification appointing Nandan as the new Chairman-cum-Managing Director for a three-year period, Jadhav was sent back to his parent Karnataka cadre.
Nandan, who took over from Jadhav immediately after his appointment this evening, said he would respond to all major issues faced by the airline, attaching top priority to revive it through financial restructuring.
Along with Nandan, government was in the process of inducting "three to four independent Directors" to the Air India Board in place of former FICCI chief and West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra and Vice Chairman and MD of the Mahindra Group Anand Mahindra, who had quit a few months ago.
Three functional Directors for Finance, Personnel and Commercial, would also be appointed to the Board soon, highly placed official sources said.
"This will be the classical governance structure" for Air India, they said, adding that the functional directors, who have so far been from within the organisation, could now be from outside.
The decision came hours after the government faced the Opposition's scathing criticism in the Lok Sabha about the running of the airline and its mounting losses.
Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament House, briefed him on the overall situation facing the airline and sought his approval to effect the changes at the top level.
Jadhav has been under attack not only from sections of the employees like the pilots but also political parties who have trained their guns on him. His tenure so far has experienced three major strikes by pilots and other employees.
Referring to the new inductions in the Board, the sources said the government was looking for persons of eminence and high calibre from areas of banking, finance, hospitality and customer care.
"We are looking for the best talent, whether it is internal or external", the sources said when asked whether the functional directors would be from within the airline.
With the Group of Ministers on Air India slated to meet on Wednesday, the government plans to give final touches to the Turnaround Plan (TAP) and Financial Restructuring Plan (FRP), including on whether it would infuse Rs 6,600 crore this fiscal as additional equity.
According to latest figures, Air India's working capital borrowings from various banks totals Rs 22,165 crore while the aircraft acquisition programme would work out to another Rs 22,000 crore.
While its monthly revenue collection is estimated at Rs 1,100 crore, its monthly expenditure stands at Rs 1,700 crore, leaving a gap of Rs 600 crore each month.
After taking over charge, Nandan, a 1982 batch IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, said he would "respond to the major issues faced by the airline and biggest one is of financial reconstruction and of revival".
"We are working on a turn around plan. The first priority is that we should reduce losses, the second will be to raise the morale of the entire staff, they should work like a team and with common purpose and vision."
"Lastly, we will like to raise the service levels of the airlines to match the people's expectations", Nandan, who oversses aviation regulator DGCA in the Ministry, said.