After receiving “zero interest” in the Air India stake sale, former Air India board member Anand Mahindra on Friday said that tough action was necessary to turnaround the fortunes of the national carrier, with “full autonomy” for the chairman and being encased from political pressure.
The Mahindra Group Chairman said, “Provide the Chairman COMPLETE insulation from political pressure… provide FULL moral support to the Chairman for all tough measures that will be required,” Mahindra said. as reported by PTI.
After a year of government’s initiation, no bidders came forward in the disinvestment process for debt-laden Air India. The deadline for submission of initial bids for Air India stake sale ended on May 31.
The government had proposed to offload 76 per cent equity share capital of Air India and suggested to transfer the management control to private players, as per the preliminary information memorandum. The transaction would involve Air India, its low-cost arm Air India Express and Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd.
Mahindra further added that the position of “Chairman and CEO” should be provided with full autonomy along with a target horizon for a turnaround.
Headed by a Chairman and a Managing Director, Air India does not have a specific post of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
“Resolve that a sale will be made but only after a turnaround,” Mahindra said and proposed locating and appointing a government official with “the potential and passion of an E Sreedharan as Chairman & CEO”.
Sreedharan is popular for his work with the Delhi Metro and Konkan Railways.
Mahindra served as an independent director on the Air India board for a year from March 2010. He also suggested that it was “time to turn a crisis into opportunity”.
Air India has been through the disinvestment process earlier in 2001 which too had failed to take off.
The future course of action for the National Carrier would be decided by the finance minister heading the alternative mechanism.