The Modi Government appointed Secretaries for several key departments yesterday. Chief among them is the appointment of Rajiv Bansal as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of national carrier Air India, which is in the process of divestment by the Centre.
Bansal takes over from Ashwani Lohani, whose one-year term as CMD of Air India ended yesterday. This was Lohani's second tenure as Air India chief. A retired bureaucrat, Lohani held the position first for around two years from 2015. During that period, he helped pilot the national carrier to a financial operating profit. In August 2017, he was named the Chairman to the Railway Board. He then retired on December 31, 2018.
Incidentally, this also marks the second stint for Bansal as CMD for Air India, where he served briefly in 2017. An IIT Delhi alumnus, Bansal is a 1988-batch IAS officer of the Nagaland cadre and currently holds the position of the additional secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
During Bansal's three-month tenure, Air India had launched services to Copenhagen among others. He had also spearheaded initiatives to reduce costs and improve on-time performance of flights during his short tenure.
His appointment comes days after the government announced a 100 percent stake sale of the debt-ridden national carrier. As part of the ambitious strategic disinvestment, the government had on January 27 issued the preliminary bid document for 100 percent stake in the national carrier which has racked up a debt of over Rs 60,000 Cr. With a new CMD at the helm, the government is hoping for a push in the divestment process.