November 30, 2017: After a stopgap of three months, the union government has named senior Karnataka cadre IAS officer Pradeep Singh Kharola as the new chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of India's state-owned airline Air India.
The appointment of Kharola comes at a time when the government is in the process of finalising modalities for the disinvestment of India’s full-service carrier.
Dubbed as a turnaround expert, Kharola ia a1985-batch Karnataka cadre IAS officer has replaced Rajiv Bansal who was at the helm of Air India as the interim CMD since last three months.
Kharola was recently moved out of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd to head Air India where he was the Managing Director. He was responsible to single handedly turn around the loss making entity into a profitable venture in 2000.
He has worked in various key positions in Karnataka. He was the chairman of Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation Ltd (KUIDFC), besides being the principal secretary to the Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar between 2012-13.
Hailing from Dehradun, Uttarakhand, Kharola holds a civil engineer degree, besides PhD from IIT Delhi in public transport systems.
According to sources, Kharola has been mandated to curtail cost and cut down on the current losses the airline has been battling, besides introduced new flights, launch new routes and augment its feet network with state-of-the-art aircraft.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on Kharola to see a similar turn around effect as the government is pulling all the stops to remove a huge overhang on the airline in terms of mounting economic losses and debts.