Bad News: Air India’s CMD Ashwani Lohani moving out

Air India has gone through a lot of bad times, and it was only after the arrival of new Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani did the ship stabilize a bit. The problem with being a government owned enterprise, especially a loss-making one, is that you are always in the news for the wrong reasons. Air India did not have a good captain on top of its ship, who had a clear view of things for the longest time. A lot of the heads were there for the perks but not for the purpose.

Ashwani-Lohani-EP

the airline management has said that the airline has been able to increase core revenue, ancillary income and operating ratio in FY 17 while it has successfully trimmed losses. The figures are significant because it indicates that the airline has bettered its performance from FY16, in which it clocked an operational profit of Rs 105 crore- first time after the controversial merger of the company.

With Ashwani Lohani, that changed. He had a spotless clean image and a firm hand which was necessary to bring Air India back from the brink. He set a clear path for the airline, which was to grow internationally. He also eliminated a lot of freebies that were passed around from Air India, including the upgrades and tickets for the political masters. He was the man who put a ban on a rogue member of Parliament for slapping one of his employees.

Air India launched Delhi – San Francisco 3 times a week in December 2015, and then doubled frequency to 6 times a week in November 2016. They started a fifth freedom flight between London and Newark, by launching an Ahmedabad – London – Newark flight. They launched flights to Madrid as well in December 2016 and took over the Delhi – Vienna flights from Austrian. I’d say that is a spectacular show given they are going in all directions. This went live on 7 July 2017 as well to Washington D.C., and is operating 3 times a week as of now. Next in line are the launches to Stockholm & Copenhagen, which are coming up in the coming month or so. Stockholm started operations last week, and Copenhagen will launch operations in 3 weeks from now. Los Angeles is on the plate for later this year.

He also did make a controversial move with making it a Vegetarian Airline, but would have been a good person to lead the sell-out of the airline when it happened. Indigo already made a bid. At least, with the crude price on his side, he steer the airline into an operating profit for the year. He did well, and here is a full report card on his performance:

the airline management has said that the airline has been able to increase core revenue, ancillary income and operating ratio in FY 17 while it has successfully trimmed losses. The figures are significant because it indicates that the airline has bettered its performance from FY16, in which it clocked an operational profit of Rs 105 crore- first time after the controversial merger of the company.

Unfortunately, he has had to move on from the airline. He has been called in to fill up another position in the bureaucracy, that of the Chairman of the Railway Board in the wake of some very bad rail accidents over the past few days. The Commercial Director of the airline, Pankaj Srivastava will be the interim CMD now

While there are bigger issues to deal with in the Railways, I do feel bad for the airline which was kind of trying to get its act together, because it will now again have a vacuum at the top and it will take a long while before someone else comes in a put the wheels in motion. Unless, till then the airline is sold off for good and has a new management.

What are your thoughts on the current situation? Are we signaling there are not enough competent people to run all the departments of the government, that we pull one out and put him into another one?

Comments

  1. Maybe the top brass of the government have internally decided or have the fullest intentions to privatize AI, and this move of removing the CEO is in furtherance of that; utilizing Ashwani Lohani’s skills where they feel would more useful.

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