The Tatas have called for an emergency board meet to settle the leadership issue at budget airline AirAsia India (AAI) with Malaysian partner Tony Fernandes on Tuesday, sources in the know said. Tatas hold a 51 per cent stake in AAI, with the other 49 per cent vested with Malaysian airline AirAsia Berhad.
It was understood that the airline will be looking to appoint their current director, operations, Manish Uppal, an old hand as the interim CEO, but the move fell through as there was some opposition to his appointment and he will continue as the accountable manager till the interim CEO is finalised.
It was earlier reported that the appointment of Tata’s choice for the top job, Jet Blue executive Eash Sundaram, had hit a roadblock because of an ongoing CBI inquiry into bribing allegations that also named Fernandes among others and that Uppal will be sought to fill in the spot till at least July. Amar Abrol, the airline’s second CEO, quit in May before his term expired.
Tuesday’s board meet should also be seen, according to sources, as the Tatas settling to gain an upper hand in finalising the top deck at the airline and thereby wresting more operational control at AAI which till now has been the domain of the Malaysian partner. A few other crucial department heads at the airline are also likely to be finalised in the board meet. —FE