Saturday, February 26, 2022

Hindu Nationalists Urge Government To Reject New Air India CEO

A Hindu nationalist group close to India's ruling party is calling on the government to block the appointment of Ilker Ayci as chief executive of Air India, citing his previous political links in Turkey, with which New Delhi has strained relations.

The call from the economic wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, comes as government agencies carry out what one government official said were more intensive than usual background checks on Ayci, who was an adviser in 1994 to Tayyip Erdogan, when the Turkish president was mayor of Istanbul.

Ayci, a former chairman of Turkish Airlines, did not answer repeated calls by Reuters for comment.

Tata Group, the Indian conglomerate which announced Ayci's appointment as CEO of previously state-run Air India after recently taking over the debt-laden airline in a $2.4 billion equity and debt deal, also did not respond. read more

In its Feb. 14 statement announcing Ayci's appointment, Tata said Ayci was "an aviation industry leader" who would "lead Air India into the new era". Ayci said in the same statement that he was delighted to lead "an iconic airline".

Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, which is seen as having significant influence on Indian policy making, said the government must not approve Ayci's appointment as Turkey had been sympathetic to India's rival Pakistan.

"It (Air India) has been a national carrier and it still carries the same importance ... Tata should not get clearance for this," Mahajan told Reuters.

The appointment of a foreign national as CEO of an airline in India requires government clearance before it can proceed.

26/02/22 Business World

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