Air India COO gets the boot

New Delhi, Nov. 18: In the face of insistence by the civil aviation ministry, the Air India Board on Thursday ordered the sacking of Captain Pawan Arora as the chief operating officer (COO) of Air India Express, the low cost carrier of Air India.

The Board ordered that the services of Captain Arora be immediately “dispensed with”, top sources confirmed. The independent directors at the meeting were also of the view that this should be done.

However, till late on Thursday evening, Air India had not yet issued the termination order but is expected to do so very soon.

The Air India Board also ordered setting up of a committee to examine the appointment of Mr Stephen Sukumar as the chief training officer of Air India in order to sort out some procedural issues but he is likely to continue.

The Air India Board also approved the appointment of Captain Gustav Baldauf, Air India COO and Mr Kamaljeet Rattan as chief communications officer.

Captain Arora was appointed as COO on October 5 this year. Sources said several board members had also expressed unhappiness and concern over the financial health of the company.

However, Air India, in a statement said that its operating loss had decreased by 39 per cent from `5,672 crore in 2008-09 to `3,472 crore in 2009-10, while the net loss dipped by 23 per cent from `7,189 crore in 2008-09 to `5,551 crore in 2009-10.

Air India’s passenger revenues went up by `1,034 crore in the first half, while the passenger load factor also increased by eight per cent.

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