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Air India Appoints Former Chairman of Turkish Airlines Ilker Ayci as CEO

Former chairman of Turkish Airlines Ilker Ayci has been appointed Air India’s new CEO and MD, the erstwhile national carriers new owners the Tata Group announced on Monday. The Air India board met to approve the candidature of Ilker Ayci, earlier today. N Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons, was a special invitee to this board meeting.

N Chandrasekaran, said, “Ilker is an aviation industry leader who led Turkish Airlines to its current success during his tenure there. We are delighted to welcome Ilker to the Tata Group where he would lead Air India into the new era.”

Ayci was born in Istanbul in 1971. He is 1994 alumni of Bilkent University’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration. After a research stay on political science at the Leeds University in the UK in 1995, he completed an International Relations Master’s program at the Marmara University in Istanbul in 1997.

Starting his career in 1994, he was assigned several positions in Kurtsan Ilaclar A.S., Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Universal Dis Ticaret A.S., respectively, and then he served as a general manager in Basak Sigorta A.S. between 2005-2006, and then in Gunes Sigorta A.S. between 2006 and 2011.

Ayci said, “I am delighted and honored to accept the privilege of leading an iconic airline and to join the Tata Group. Working closely with my colleagues at Air India and the leadership of the Tata Group, we will utilize the strong heritage of Air India to make it one of the best airlines in the world with a uniquely superior flying experience that reflects Indian warmth and hospitality.”

The Tata Group took over Air India in January and is finalising a team of top notch professionals to revive the airline. The new board of AI is likely to be led by Tata Group chairman N Chandrasekaran himself. Currently, Tatas are running AI, AI Express, Vistara and AirAsia India — are yet to spell out their plans for the airline structure.

Nearly seven decades after it lost control, Tatas regained ownership of Air India and promised to turn the loss-making carrier into a world-class airline. The handover culminated a long process of government’s attempt to transfer the ownership of the loss-making airline to a private owner. The airline has never made profit since its merger with Indian Airlines in 2007-08 and has reported a loss of Rs 7,017 crore in FY21.

The acquisition gives the salt-to-software conglomerate 100 per cent ownership in Air India, its low cost subsidiary Air India Express and 50 per cent stake in ground handling firm AISATS.

Earlier this month, Air India and AirAsia entered into an ‘interline considerations on irregular operations’ agreement for two years. So, passengers can be transferred between the two airlines in case of disrupted operations.

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