The Tata Group takeover has made Air India an attractive place for airline executives, with the former state-owned airline attracting top talent from rival airlines while bolstering its team.
Air India under government was not a preference for senior industry executives. The airline also froze hiring of labor due to cost-control measures for years before the salt-steel conglomerate acquired it last year.
“We need to bring in outside perspectives and talent as well as train existing employees, as the airline has not recruited since 2006 into key non-airline roles that require exposure to modern software and technology,” said Campbell Wilson, CEO of Air India, to ET. “We want to build a talent pool and develop leaders for succession planning.” Industry insiders said the airline was offering a salary 40-50% above industry standards to rebuild its core team.
This, along with the Tata Group’s aggressive expansion plans, are key reasons executives choose Air India as a career option, they said.
Air India aims to increase its domestic and international market share to 30% and triple the size of its fleet over the next five years.
Henry Donohoe, a former Emirates executive who last worked with European airline Norwegian, will join the airline as head of safety and quality.
Arun Kashyap, a former engineering manager at SpiceJet, has joined Air India as chief technical officer and is responsible for building the airline’s engineering and maintenance capabilities.
Air India has depended on its engineering subsidiary AI Engineering Services Ltd for years for maintenance needs and is now trying to develop in-house capabilities. Kashyap has experience on narrow bodies like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 and on wide bodies like the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330.
Tatas has been particularly focused on bolstering Air India’s legal and network planning and sales team, which had not seen a new hire or training of the existing workforce for years. .
Manish Puri, who spent 15 years with India’s largest carrier IndiGo, is Air India’s new sales chief. Zubin Masani, associate general counsel at IndiGo who was instrumental in the airline’s record aircraft and engine orders, has joined Air India as head of the company’s legal team.
“The initial response to our various job vacancies has been tremendous as a whole generation of workforce have missed out on the opportunity to work for Air India due to limited recruitment over the years,” Suresh said. Dutt Tripathi, Human Resources Director of Air India. “We are looking to close that gap. Our talent acquisition initiative aims to ensure that our human resource capabilities keep pace with growth and the needs of the organization,” he said.
Air India has also bolstered its network planning team with former Vistara executives who have been instrumental in developing the airline’s network since its inception in 2015.
“Tata is building a great team and most of the people who join see an opportunity to be part of an amazing turnaround journey in a very professional environment with a competitive salary,” said one person who joined Air. India from a rival carrier.