National carrier Air India is heading into a crucial period of its turnaround without leaders at key positions across the company’s different verticals. While, the chief operating officer?s post has remained vacant since Gustav Baldauf resigned in 2011, Air India is also seeking chief executive officers for its subsidiaries Air India Express, Air India Engineering Services and Air India Air Transport Services.
The vacant positions have resulted in an increased work pressure on chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan and his team. But Air India officials remain unperturbed and said that they will not rush into any decision just to fill up the posts.
?We will have to wait for the right candidate to fill up the posts,? said a senior Air India official. ?The response to our recruitment advertisements have been good but we want to give enough time for the best of talent to apply for these posts.?
Air India last had a chief operating officer, a post created to monitor the day-to-day operations of the airline to help turn it around, during 2010 to 2011, when Austrian national Gustav Baldauf was working for the national carrier.
Baldauf’s stint was a controversial one with critics saying he did not do much to help the airline’s operations despite drawing a salary in excess of Rs3 crore a year. He eventually resigned after he criticized the government’s interference in Air India in an interview.
Air India has since then regularly advertised for a replacement but hasn’t yet appointed anyone. Air India Express, the national carrier’s subsidiary for low-cost international operations also remains without a chief executive officer. The subsidiary’s operations have been handled by past chairman and managing director Arvind Jhadav and by the current CMD, Rohit Nandan.
The national carrier had also spun off its MRO and ground handling operations into separate subsidiaries, Air India Engineering Services and Air India Air Transport Services. The two companies took on nearly 8,000 people from Air India’s ground handling and MRO divisions. But both these companies remain without a chief executive officer despite the national carrier seeking applicants for the post since February 2013.
Industry experts say that the posts haven’t generated a lot of interest as the fortunes of the airline depend a lot on the government’s decisions.
?Being an Air India executive is a tough job,? said an aviation consultant with a global audit and consultancy firm. ?To handle the bureaucracy and then meet the targets takes it toll. People often choose jobs with private airlines.?