Ashwani Lohani took charge as the CMD of Air India in September 2015. In August 2017, he quit Air India as he was called back to the Railways. In December 2018, Ashwani Lohani retired from the Railways Board as the Chairman.
P S Kharola succeeded Ashwani Lohani as Air India’s CMD in 2017. In a minor top-level game of musical chairs, the Aviation Secretary Rajiv Choubey joined UPSC, and P S Kharola was appointed as the new Aviation Secretary. This move left the top post at Air India open. Pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the Government of India brought back Ashwani Lohani. He is now back at Air India and will take charge as the CMD effective immediately.
Following his appointment news, the employees at Air India are excited as Ashwani Lohani is a very approachable person. During his two year stint as Air India’s CMD, Ashwani Lohani had an impressive report card. Under him,
- Air India posted its first operational profit in ages
- Air India went vegetarian on domestic flights
- Air India introduced women-only seating
- Air India pursued massive international expansion
- An Indian MP was banned from flying for hitting an Air India employee
Ashwani Lohani has been appointed for one year. Following his appointment, there has been news of Air India improving its fleet utilisation and adding few more frequencies on existing USA routes.
Lohani’s appointment comes at a time when a lot of things are going on. General elections are coming up in a few months; the government is selling off of Air India subsidiaries like AIATSL, transferring part of the debt to a separate Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). Coincidentally, Ashwani Lohani in his earlier stint believed that Air India could perform exceedingly well, but the weight of its debt was pulling it down. He may have been appointed to improve Air India’s performance and to make it buyer worthy before the Government can sell it off completely.
Will Air India turn around under Ashwani Lohani? What are your thoughts?