Due to the group’s presence across multiple businesses, it is in a unique position in the aviation industry to bring the best of talents.
Tata Sons has started restructuring Air India -- the government-owned airline it acquired last year. The Tata group is banking on talent and expertise from its allied businesses to turn around the loss-making carrier.
On Friday, Tatas announced restructuring of the Air India board when functional directors of the airline stepped down and executives from various Tata group companies took charge.
The new owners have started renegotiating multiple contracts of the airline to bring down the cost of operations while starting the work for a merger of AirAsia India and Air India Express. However, a chief executive officer for the airline is yet to be named more than a month after former Turkish Airlines CEO Ilker Ayci declined an offer to join Air India.
In the absence of a CEO, Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran has been overseeing Air India. The existing functional directors, who are Air India veterans and were overseeing finance, commercial, human resource and operations, have been appointed as advisors to Chandrasekaran.
The company gave charge of the crucial commercial department to Nipun Aggarwal, currently a senior vice-president at Tata Sons. An investment banker by profession, Aggarwal played a key role in the year-long process of Tata’s takeover of Air India.
It appointed Suresh Dutt Tripathi as chief human resource officer. Tripathi earlier headed HR at Tata Steel.
Rajesh Dogra, a TCS veteran who headed the Passport Seva programme, is now head of customer experience and ground handling at Air India.
Satya Ramaswamy, head of strategic initiatives at Tata Digital, is now the chief digital and technology officer of the airline.
This is the first time the airline will have a chief digital officer as it looks to improve its tech backend.
“Technology will be a key focus area. The group has studied examples of most technologically-superior airlines to understand the best practices and will implement them,” a person aware of the development said.
A team from TCS is working on integrating the airline’s software with the One Tata Operating Network and on-boarding it with the Tata Neu app.
Simultaneously, a team consisting of executives from Taj Hospitality group and led by Sandeep Verma -- who earlier headed in-flight services at Vistara -- is working to improve the airline’s soft image through better in-flight amenities.
In February, in his maiden address to Air India employees, Chandrasekaran had identified four core areas on which the firm will focus. They are providing best-in-class customer service, making it the most tech-advanced airline in the world, upgrading and modernising the fleet, and hospitality -- both in-flight and off-flight.
The group has also taken advantage of its large-scale operations (Vistara, AirAsia India, Air India, and Air India Express) to renegotiate contracts. Sources said that it has recently negotiated its jet fuel contract. Fuel will be cheaper by at least 8-10 per cent, they added.
It is also negotiating a contract with booking platform provider Navitaire, which will host its integrated low-cost business of Air India Express and AirAsia India.
A person involved in Air India’s restructuring pointed out that due to the group’s presence across multiple businesses, it is in a unique position in the aviation industry to bring the best of talents.