Air India’s CEO choose Ilker Ayci declines provide, cites ‘undesirable’ narrative

AIR INDIA’S MD & CEO-designate Ilker Ayci stated on Tuesday that he has declined the Tata Group’s provide to guide the airline, citing “attempts” to paint his appointment “with undesirable colours”. The Tata Group is known to have restarted the method of choosing a brand new CEO for Air India, together with contemplating candidates from inside the conglomerate.

“My appointment as (CEO of) Air India within Tata Group was announced earlier in February, with a start date of April 1. Since the announcement, I have been sadly following news in some sections of the media attempting to colour my appointment with undesirable colours,” Ayci stated in an announcement.

As a enterprise chief who has at all times prioritised skilled credo and extra importantly, the happiness and well-being of my household above all else, I’ve come to the conclusion that it could not be a possible or an honorable choice to simply accept the place within the shadow of such narrative,” he stated.

“I remain grateful to the Chairman of Tata Group, Mr N Chandrasekaran, and the Tata Group for extending to me the honour and the opportunity to lead Air India. However, at a recent meeting with Mr Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Group, I regretfully informed him and I wish to inform the public, as well, that I will decline the position,” the 51-year-old Turkish nationwide stated.

The Tata Group didn’t reply to requests for feedback.

It’s learnt that previous to naming Ayci for the submit on February 14, the Tata Group sounded out senior officers within the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The announcement is learnt to have been made after an understanding that the choice would undergo the required regulatory approvals.

Nonetheless, following the announcement, the Tatas’ choose from an preliminary record that comprised half-a-dozen European and American airline executives, noticed growing backlash, together with from the RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch, which expressed “concern” over Ayci’s alleged hyperlinks with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ayci, whose final project was as Chairman of Turkish Airstrains, was earlier an advisor to Erdogan within the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul when the latter was Mayor of Istanbul.

At the same time as the selection to rope in a Turkish nationwide to run the airline was unconventional, even going by the Tata Group’s historical past of expatriate appointments, sure facets weighed in Ayci’s favour. These included turning Turkish Airstrains round after two main incidents — the 2016 Turkey coup, and the pandemic. A big optimistic was the provider’s means to see via the pandemic section with out making layoffs or taking any authorities bailouts. Additionally, Ayci’s willingness to make a long-term dedication was a key benefit,

A authorities official stated the Tata Group had made its submission to the Ministry of Civil Aviation for approval, and the file was forwarded to the Ministry of House Affairs (MHA) for safety clearance. Amid the growing opposition to Ayci’s appointment, the MHA signalled its intent to “scrupulously” perform a background examine on Ayci.

Whereas making the announcement final month, the Tata Group had famous in its assertion that the appointment was “subject to requisite regulatory approvals”. As per the rules, any top-level personnel change in an airline based mostly in India requires the approval of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, which, as a part of its approval course of, will get the candidate’s safety clearance from the MHA.

On Friday, SJM’s convener Ashwani Mahajan had informed The Indian Specific: “The aviation industry cannot be equated with a chips manufacturer. This is a matter of national security. We must be very careful. His links with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current President of Turkey, is a matter of concern and must be thoroughly checked before arriving at a decision”.

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