In a massive setback to Tata Group, Ilker Ayci on Tuesday declined the company's offer to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director of Air India, adding that he would "remain grateful to the Chairman of Tata Group, N Chandrasekaran and the Tata Group" for extending the opportunity to lead Air India.
Ayci, in a statement, said that he declined to take the post after reading about attempts "to colour my appointment with undesirable colours" in some sections of the Indian media, according to sources.
RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch had last Friday said the government should not give clearance to the appointment of Ayci in Air India ''keeping in view national security''. SJM's co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan had said the government is ''already sensitive'' to the issue and has taken up the matter ''very seriously''. When asked for the reasons why the SJM is opposed to the newly appointed CEO and MD, Mahajan had reiterated that it's a matter of national security. ''After all, decisions are taken about a person based on his relationships," he had said.
He also mentioned, "I remain grateful to the Chairman of Tata Group, Mr. N. Chandrasekaran and the Tata Group for extending to me the honor and the opportunity to lead Air India."
Tata, on February 14, announced Ayci's appointment as CEO and Managing Director of previously state-run Air India after taking over the debt-laden airline in January in a $2.4 billion equity and debt deal.
Here is the full text of the statement issued by Ayci:
"My appointment at Air India within Tata Group was announced earlier in February, with a start date of April 1st. Since the announcement, I have been carefully following news in some sections of the Indian media attempting to color my appointment with undesirable colors.
As a business leader who has always prioritized professional credo and more importantly, the happiness and well being of my family above all else, I have come to the conclusion that it would not be a feasible or an honorable decision to accept the position in the shadow of such narrative.
I remain grateful to the Chairman of Tata Group, Mr. N. Chandrasekaran and the Tata Group for extending to me the honor and the opportunity to lead Air India. However, at a recent meeting with Mr Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Group, I regretfully informed him and I wish to inform the public, as well, that I will decline the position. It is with a heavy heart that I make this decision, and I wish Air India and the Tata Group, a global enterprise which I greatly admire, every success.
I will continue my career by pursuing alternative opportunities with the objective of creating value and building world class businesses."
Ayci, a former chairman of Turkish Airlines, was an adviser in 1994 to Tayyip Erdogan when the Turkish president was mayor of Istanbul.
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