Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Ilker Ayci, ex-chief of Turkish Air & former Erdogan aide, new AI CEO

New Delhi: Former Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci will be the CEO & MD of Air India. The AI board met Monday afternoon, with Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran as a special invitee, to consider his candidature. Ayci will take over the job that involves the most challenging airline turnarounds in contemporary times, by April 1, 2022.

N Chandrasekaran said: “Ilker is an aviation industry leader who led Turkish Airlines to its current success during his tenure there. We are delighted to welcome Ilker to the Tata Group where he would lead AI into the new era. ”

About two decades ago, Ayci was adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when the latter was mayor of Istanbul. Erdogan was a witness at Ayci’s wedding in November 2018. The Tata Group late last month took over AI, AI Express and AISATS.

‘Will use AI’s strong heritage’

Before announcing Ilker Ayci’s appointment as new CEO & MD of Air India, the change effected by the Tatas in these companies has been in AISATS where a new management team has been announced. Tata Sons senior VP Nipun Aggarwal is among those on the board of AISATS.

Ilker Ayci said: “I am delighted and honoured to accept the privilege of leading an iconic airline and to join the Tata Group. Working closely with my colleagues at Air India and the leadership of the Tata Group, we will utilise the strong heritage of Air India to make it one of the best airlines in the world with a uniquely superior flying experience that reflects Indian warmth and hospitality.”

Tatas have four airlines in their group now — two full service AI and Vistara and as many low-cost AirAsia India and AI Express. They are yet to spell out the consolidation in their airline space with Vistara, where Singapore Airlines is a 49% stakeholder, going to remain a separate airline for now. Group companies like TajSats have already started working on the promised AI turnaround by offering enhanced products to the airline.

15/02/22 Times of India

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