Top Air India officials to retire, squabble for posts begins

IANS
  • The race to reach the top positions of Air India has picked up steam as 10 senior executives are scheduled to retire in the next six months.
  • Accordingly, Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal has sounded out these 10 officials to chart out their respective succession plans, thereby ruling out any possibility of an extension.
  • Unfortunately, this has triggered internal bickering and even routine intra-department transfers are now viewed with suspicion,

The race to reach the top positions of Air India has picked up steam as 10 senior executives are scheduled to retire in the next six months. Accordingly, Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal has sounded out these 10 officials to chart out their respective succession plans, thereby ruling out any possibility of an extension.

In effect, the move is viewed in line with the flag carrier's efforts to streamline the company's top-heavy management structure.Consequently, sources in the airline told IANS that a squabble for these positions has already started as internal bickering among senior officials has risen.

Till recently, post-retirement job extensions were given to the airline's executives as even some retirees were also re-hired.
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However, this practice has been stopped, a senior AI official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Besides, the official cited a letter dated June 24, in which Bansal named all 10 executives who are to retire in the coming months and asked them to put in place their respective succession plans. These executives include Arvind Kathpalia, ED (Special Projects), Arun Kumar Bansal, ED (Engineering), Rajeev Bajpai, ED (Training), and Ajay Thakur, GM (Administration), Headquarters.

"All concerned are requested to put in place a succession plan, indentify the successor and put him or her in position to take over the charge from the current incumbents on the day of their superannuation so that there is no disruption of work," Bansal said in the letter.
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Furthermore, he scuttled their chances of any future company engagement, by writing: "No request for engagement on post retirement basis should be initiated in this regard."

Unfortunately, this has triggered internal bickering and even routine intra-department transfers are now viewed with suspicion, the official said.

A case in point being that of recent transfers in the North India operations department.
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"Everyone wants to be in the race. It should be based on merit and not a slugfest," he said.

The move for a succession plan is being viewed as a major step towards lowering the airline's employee strength and making the company attractive for prospective buyers. At present, the Centre has re-initiated the airline's divestment plan with new norms.

Interestingly, this time, it has sweetened the deal by substantially reducing the debt on the airline's account books and offered a 100 per cent stake in the loss-making airline.
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The last date for bid submission to acquire Air India has also been extended to August 31. In January, the Centre had invited expression of interest (EoI) from prospective buyers for Air India and two of its subsidiaries.

Along with Air India and its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express, the flag carrier's 50 per cent stake in ground-handling arm AISATS has also been put on the block.

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