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Air India sacks senior official, sets up panel on fate of another

New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) State-run carrier Air India (AI) Thursday sacked the recently appointed chief operating officer (COO) Pawan Arora of its budget international service Air India Express.

‘The board has asked the management to dismiss Mr. Arora,’ said an airline official on the condition of anonymity, after a meeting here of the board of National Aviation Co of India, the holding company.

On Nov 1, the independent directors of the company had objected and complained to Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister T.K.A. Nair about the appointment of Arora.

The directors had especially complained about the fact that they were ‘kept in the dark’ and misguided about the record of Arora, who was earlier removed from key flight safety posts by the director general of civil aviation (DGCA) before he joined Air India, officials said.

According to officials, the board also decided to set up a committee to examine the appointment of Stefan Sukumar as chief of training of the airline.

Objection were raised on the fact that under the regulations, the chief trainer should be an approved examiner and experienced on the main type of aircraft in the airline fleet.

While Sukumar has instructor experience for Airbus A-300 and A-310 aircraft, both these aircrafts are not in the AI’s fleet which comprises mainly of Boeing B-777s and Airbus A-320s, officials said.

According to them, the decisions were taken during the meeting whose official agenda was to accept the annual report for 2009-10 and to discuss the financial results of the first half of the current fiscal.

The meeting was attended by two independent directors – Amit Mitra, secretary general of Federations of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and M. A Yusuffal, managing director, Emke Group.

The other three independent directors – Anand Mahindra, vice-chairman and managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra, industrialist Harsh Neotia, and Air Chief Marshal (retd) Fali H. Major – did not attend the meeting.

There were speculations that the independent directors would raise the issue of the recent hiring of senior officers, including Arora and Sukumar.

The board approved the appointment of Kamaldeep Rattan as the chief of public affairs.

‘Mr. Rattan has been retained. The board has not given any instructions against him to the management,’ an official said.

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