July 6, 2022

Air India may tap private sector for top-level hires

NEW DELHI: Air India is likely to hire professionals from the private sector to fill the positions of functional directors, in what will be a first for the national carrier. Aviation minister Suresh Prabhu has asked his ministry to look at hiring people from the private sector at the staterun airline. 

The posts of director-personnel and director-commercial at Air India are vacant and to fill these, the aviation ministry had earlier moved a proposal to the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), the government head-hunter for top positions at state-run companies. But it withdrew the proposal following Prabhu’s direction, said a senior aviation ministry official, who did not want to be named. 

“The minister, late last week, has ordered filling these posts by hiring professionals from the private sector. The proposal will now be discussed to find out a procedure to do so and the PESB proposal has been put on hold,” said the official. 

Even though Air India has had chairmen and a chief operating officer from the private sector, this would be the first time it will be hiring functional directors from outside the government. The post of director (personnel) has been lying vacant since NK Jain left Air India to join NHPC. Pankaj Srivastava, who was director-commercial, retired in April. 

All senior-level posts at public sector undertakings are filled by the PESB, which advertises and interviews executives for the post. A different approach is likely to be followed for hiring from the private sector. 

Meanwhile, the official said the Prime Minister’s Office had not yet approved any revival plan for the airline, which had sought a one-time infusion of Rs 30,000 crore from the government. While the government had decided not to provide any help one-time, it is discussing ways to fund the airline through a mix of debt, equity and sale of assets 

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