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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Tata Group appoints Campbell Wilson as CEO & MD of Air India

Earlier this year, Tata Group had named Turkish Airlines Chairman Ilker Ayci as Air India's CEO & MD, but he subsequently denied the position.

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi |
Updated: May 13, 2022 4:58:08 am
Campbell Wilson, 50, has 26 years of aviation industry expertise across both full service and low-cost airlines. (ANI)

The Tata Group has appointed Campbell Wilson, the CEO of Singapore Airlines’ wholly-owned low-cost subsidiary Scoot, as Air India’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD). The Mumbai-based conglomerate completed its acquisition of the state-owned national carrier in January, and has been searching for a person to lead the airline’s turnaround plan.

Wilson is the Tata Group’s second attempt at hiring a CEO-MD for Air India, as the previous CEO-designate, former Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci, declined to take up the position citing “attempts” to paint his appointment “with undesirable colours”.

The Air India board approved Wilson’s appointment, subject to requisite regulatory approvals, the company said in a statement, adding that the 50-year-old has 26 years of aviation industry experience across both full-service and low-cost airlines. Singapore Airlines said Campbell’s last day at Scoot will be June 15, “and he will subsequently join Air India as its new CEO”. However, the Tata Group did not disclose the effective date of his appointment. Earlier, while announcing that it had selected Ayci as Air India’s CEO-MD in February, the group had said that the appointment was effective from April 1 this year.

Former Vistara CEO Leslie Thng will replace Wilson at Scoot. Singapore Airlines is Tata Sons’ joint venture partner in Vistara, but did not join its Air India bid.

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Wilson will join Air India’s board of directors, currently comprising Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran, alongside Hindustan Unilever CEO & MD Sanjiv Mehta and former General Insurance Corporation chairperson Alice Vaidyan, who are both independent directors.

Chandrasekaran, in a statement, said, “I am delighted to welcome Campbell to Air India. He is an industry veteran having worked in key global markets cutting across multiple functions. Further, Air India would benefit from his added experience of having built an airline brand in Asia. I look forward to working with him in building a world-class airline.”

Last month, the airline underwent a major senior management reshuffle with Tata Sons Senior Vice President Nipun Aggarwal being appointed as Chief Commercial Officer, and Tata Steel’s Suresh Dutt Tripathi being appointed Chief Human Resources Officer. Among the pre-disinvestment officials, operations head R S Sandhu and finance head Vinod Hejmadi were reappointed as Chief of Operations and Chief Financial Officer, respectively.

Wilson’s appointment will be subject to security clearance by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The MHA nod is necessary for any change in the top management of an airline. This clearance is sought by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, while granting its approval to the appointment.

Christchurch-born Wilson is a career executive with the Singapore Airlines group, where he started working as a management trainee in New Zealand in 1996. He then worked for SIA in Canada, Hong Kong and Japan before returning to Singapore in 2011 as the founding CEO of Scoot, which he led until 2016.

He then served as the Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, of SIA, where he worked on pricing, distribution, e-commerce, merchandising, brand & marketing, global sales and the airline’s overseas offices, before returning for a second stint as the CEO of Scoot in April 2020.

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a statement: “Campbell is one of our most experienced senior executives, who has made many important contributions in key management roles within the SIA Group. While we are sad to lose him, he goes to Air India with our full blessings. We wish Campbell every success in his new and exciting role”.

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