Air India CEO designate Campbell Wilson gets ministry nod

Air India flight. Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave
Air India flight. Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave

New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry is examining the application to give security clearance to Air India Chief Executive Officer designate Campbell Wilson and the nod will be given once the thorough background check is completed, officials said.

The Tata Sons, which took over from the government the loss-making airline on January 27 this year, announced the appointment of Wilson on May 12.

The application for security clearance to Air India CEO designate Campbell Wilson is under consideration and the approval will be given once the background check is completed, officials privy to the issue said.

Wilson was the CEO of Singapore Airlines' wholly-owned subsidiary Scoot Air. Singapore Airlines is a joint venture partner of Tata Group in full service carrier Vistara.

As the security clearance is taking time, Wilson is yet to formally take over the charge of the Air India, industry sources said.

A query sent to Air India on Wilson's security clearance and when is he expected to officially join the airline did not elicit a response.

Weeks after taking over the carrier, Tata Sons, on February 14, named Turkish Airlines' former Chairman Lyker Ayci as Air India's MD and CEO.

However, Ayci, a Turkish national, who was to take over on April 1, declined to join the group amid concerns in certain quarters over his reported close links with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan had taken anti-India stand on several occasions in the past on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

Under government rules, clearance of the home ministry is mandatory for appointment of key personnel at private-run companies that include foreign nationals.

In a message to Air India employees on June 20, Wilson said the airline's "best years are yet to come" and that the journey to make it a world class airline will require efforts that are "big and small, easy and difficult".

Wilson, an aviation industry veteran with over 26 years of experience, started off as a management trainee with Singapore Airlines in New Zealand in 1996.

He then worked for the carrier 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 and marketing of Singapore Airlines, where he oversaw pricing, distribution, e-commerce, merchandising, brand and marketing, global sales and the airline's overseas offices, before returning for a second stint as the CEO of Scoot in April 2020.

Through a competitive bidding process, the government in October last year sold Air India to Talace Private Limited, a subsidiary of Tata Sons for Rs 18,000 crore.

The Air India was started by the Tata Group in 1932 and the carrier was nationalised in 1953.

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