Air India names former Turkish Airlines head Ayci as new CEO

posted on 14th February 2022 by Eddie Saunders
Air India names former Turkish Airlines head Ayci as new CEO

Ragini SaxenaBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) — Air India Ltd. named Ilker Ayci, former chairman of Turkish Airlines, its new chief executive officer as the debt-laden carrier embarks on a journey to revamp itself after it was sold to the Tata Group.

“I am delighted and honored to accept the privilege of leading an iconic airline and to join the Tata Group,” Ayci said in a statement by the parent Tata Sons Pvt. “We will utilize 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.”

Ayci faces the daunting task of reviving the money-losing airline whose local market share fell to about 10% last year. Tata Group is already burdened with two other unprofitable airlines —  Vistara, a venture with Singapore Airlines Ltd., and AirAsia India Ltd. with AirAsia Bhd. Ayci will also have to tackle Air India’s debt of 153 billion rupees ($2 billion).

Ayci, 51, led Turkey’s flag carrier for six years from 2015. Turkish Airlines struggled during the first year of the pandemic as air travel slumped but recovered by reducing staff costs and taking advantage of a booming freight business. Under Ayci’s management, Turkish Airlines moved to its new hub in Istanbul, which is set to be the world’s largest airport when fully completed in 2023.

Ayci will take charge as Air India head by April 1, while his appointment awaits approvals.