NEW DELHI : The government on Wednesday appointed IAS officer Rajiv Bansal as the Chairman and Managing Director of national passenger carrier Air India. Bansal, presently Financial Advisor to the Petroleum & Natural Gas Ministry, has been given additional charge of Air India's CMD. He succeeds Ashwani Lohani who was on Wednesday named as Chairman of the Railway Board.
Bansal is a 1988 batch IAS officer from the Nagaland cadre. He has earlier had a stint with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) between 2006 and 2008.
An official statement said the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved Bansal's appointment.
"The competent authority has approved the assignment of additional charge of the post of Chairman and Managing Director, Air India to Rajiv Bansal, IAS (NL 88), Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, for a period of three months, or until further orders, whichever is earlier," the ACC executive order read.
Bansal's appointment came a few hours after Lohani was named Chairman of the Railway Board in place of A.K. Mittal, who stepped down in the wake of repeated train accidents.
Lohani was made Air India Chairman two years ago on the back of his success in turning around the India Tourism Development Corp and the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corp. He was currently engaged in giving shape to Air India's global expansion plans, at a time when the government had decided on strategic divestment in the airline.
In a letter to employees Lohani said: "Orders promoting me as Chairman, Railway Board have been issued today (Wednesday). I shall be joining my parent organisation, the lndian Railways tomorrow (Thursday). My journey with Air lndia has been one of the most satisfying periods of my life."
"Together we could bring about major improvements and also expansions and in the process have been able to improve the image of the airline."
Currently, a ministerial group has been formed to look into the modalities of Air India's divestment process.
The group -- Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism -- is being headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The group has been mandated to guide the strategic divestment process and to decide on key issues such as treatment of AI's debt and hiving-off of its assets.
The demerger and strategic divestment of three profit making subsidiaries, the quantum of disinvestment and the universe of bidders is also on the group's agenda.
The airline in 2015-16 had posted an operating profit of Rs 105 crore. For the last fiscal (2016-17), the company is expected to report an improved operating profit margin.
The flag carrier had got a new lease of life on April 12, 2012, when the then UPA government had approved a Rs 30,000 crore turnaround (TAP) and financial restructuring plans (FRP) package spanning up to the year 2021.