Tatas Sons may review Air India CEO Ilker Ayci hire if govt nod delayed

The Ministry of Home Affairs will conduct a comprehensive background check on the newly appointed CEO and MD of Air India, Ilker Ayci, a Turkish native (MHA). MHA would “scrupulously” carry out the entire process, according to sources on February 20.

Ayci’s appointment as CEO and MD of the loss-making airlines was recently announced by the Tata Group, which purchased Air India from the government. According to the sources, the Home Ministry “scrupulously” conducts a comprehensive background check on all foreign nationals hired to important positions in any Indian company. According to them, the same procedure will apply to the newly appointed CEO and MD.

However, neither the Tata group nor the Civil Aviation Ministry, the nodal ministry, have yet to communicate with the MHA about Ayci. According to the sources, once a communication is received, the entire security clearance process will commence.

Because Ayci is a Turkish national, the MHA is likely to enlist the services of the RAW, an external intelligence organisation, to conduct his background investigation. From 1994 until 1998, Ayci served as an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while he was mayor of Istanbul. He was the chairman of Turkish Airlines from 2015 until 2022, and he was credited with turning the company around.

Through its subsidiary Talace, the Tata group now owns Air India. The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management officially turned over control of the airline to the Tata group (DIPAM).

In October of last year, the company successfully bid Rs 18,000 crore for Air India. The Tata group now owns Air India, Air India Express, and Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd, according to a statement.