Rajiv Bansal to pilot debt-ridden Air India for second time

New Delhi, Feb 13 (PTI) Senior bureaucrat Rajiv Bansal was on Thursday appointed as the chairman and managing director of Air India for a second time, a Personnel Ministry order said, days after the government announced 100 per cent stake sale of the debt-ridden national carrier.

Bansal, a 1988-batch IAS officer of the Nagaland cadre, is currently the additional secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved his appointment as the CMD of Air India in the rank and pay of additional secretary, the order stated, without mentioning further details.

He replaces Ashwani Lohani, who has completed his one-year tenure as the head of the airline.

As part of the ambitious strategic disinvestment, the government had on January 27 issued the preliminary bid document for 100 per cent stake in Air India, which has a debt pile of over Rs 60,000 crore.

Bansal was in August 2017 named as Air India's interim CMD for three months. He had then also replaced Lohani, who was appointed as the chairman of the Railway Board after completion of his two-year stint.

During Bansal's three-month tenure, Air India had launched services to Copenhagen among others. He had also initiated various steps to reduce costs and improve on-time performance of flights during his short tenure.

Lohani, a 1980-batch officer of the Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers, was in February last year appointed Air India's CMD for the second time for a one-year tenure. He had retired as the Railway Board chairman in December 2018.

Bansal, who hails from Haryana, has served in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, where he had looked after digital payments, Aadhaar and internet governance among others.

During his career spanning over 30 years, he has worked as secretary, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), joint secretary, Department of Heavy Industries, and also as director, Ministry of Civil Aviation, besides holding important assignments in the state government of Nagaland.

He is a civil engineer by profession having graduated from IIT Delhi in 1986 and has a diploma in finance from ICFAI, Hyderabad, and an executive masters in international business from IIFT, New Delhi. PTI AKV IAS IJT