Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Can new CEO Ilker Ayci turn Air India around?

Dubai: Tata Sons’ decision to tap former Turkish Airlines Chairman Ilker Ayci for the role of Air India’s CEO is a calculated move to transform the airline into a world-class one and turn New Delhi into a major aviation hub, industry experts have said.

Those familiar with Ayci’s past know the Turkish aviation veteran’s hiring is a no-brainer.

“He has run a fairly large airline and dealt with labour unions because Turkish Airlines is highly unionised,” said Vinamra Longani, Head of Operations at Sarin & Co, a law firm specialising in aircraft leasing and finance.

“He has worked in the insurance industry and has a finance background. In India, where the aviation sector is highly regulated, dealing with the government is a part and parcel of every airline C-level executive,” said Longani.

Ayci, who was the chairman of Turkish Airlines until last month, has worked closely with the government there. In 1994, Ayci was also the advisor of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was then the mayor of Istanbul.

“These skill sets will definitely help him and the idea is to make Air India a world class airline that hubs out of Delhi and not just be limited to the region,” said Longani.

Born in Istanbul in 1971, Ayci was an alumnus of the country's first private varsity, Bilkent University, Ankara. He graduated from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and is fluent in Turkish, English and Russian.

Following a research stay in political science from the Leeds University in the UK, he completed his Master's in international relations from the Marmara University in Istanbul.

He has held several positions with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

Ayci also served as the CEO of several insurance companies.

In January 2011, he took over as the President of the Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey.

In 2013, he was appointed Vice-President of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies of which he later became the Chairman and served till 2015.

Ayci was appointed chairman of Turkish Airlines in 2015 and the following year described his firm as "one of the most profitable airlines in the world" over the previous decade.

The pandemic plunged the airline into losses of $836 million in 2020, but it returned to profit in the first nine months of 2021, with analysts crediting a focus on freight cargo and cutting employee costs, AFP reports.

In a CEOWorld Magazine column last year, Ayci said his airline had achieved "what most other airlines could not" by cutting costs and capital expenditure during the pandemic.

Ayci, 51, stepped down from his Turkish Airlines post last month.

16/02/22 John Benny/Gulf News

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment