September 29, 2022

Former British Airways CEO Alex Cruz likely to be Air India CEO – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Air India may get Alex Cruz, an aviation veteran with rich experience of heading both full service and low cost airlines, as its CEO. Cruz, 55, was chairman and CEO of British Airways for about five years till 2020 and before that he headed Spanish low cost Vueling.
Pandemic-hit BA had in October 2020 cut 13,000 jobs. At that time, Cruz had stepped down as the airline’s chief executive and then a transition period gave up as chairman too. Cruz LinkedIn profile shows he is currently an investor, board member and adviser on some companies. An MS in industrial engineering from Ohio State University, Cruz is also a professor at the IESE Business School.
Comments from Tatas on Cruz selection have been sought and are awaited.
The Tata Group last week took over AI and is learnt to be finalising a team of top notch professionals to revive the airline, a clearly uphill task. The new board of AI is likely to be led by Tata Group chairman N Chandrasekaran himself.
Air India’s turnaround as a comfortable and punctual airline for passengers and a profitable one for the owners will be among the biggest aviation success stories globally.
Tatas — now running AI, AI Express, Vistara and AirAsia India — are yet to spell out their plans for the airline structure. Whether there will be three airlines — one low cost by merging AI Express and AirAsia India; AI and Vistara — or two — a mega AI that merges the two LCCs and Vistara — is not yet known. Vistara will remain a separate entity till Singapore Airlines, 49 per cent stakeholder in it, agrees to a merger with AI.
While the “hardware” of renovating interiors of AI’s now-ageing fleet — a much needed thing — and/or inducting new planes will take time, the Tatas have already taken some experts on board to have some visible improvements on the “software” side. The low hanging fruits are enhanced meals that group company and India’s largest inflight caterer, TajSats, is working on and warmer hospitality from the frontline personnel like the cabin crew. To be sure, AI inflight meals and cabin crew have always been good.

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